This essay provides a case scenario of Janet Smith, a patient who suffered a road accident and sustained injuries resulting in pain and wounds. We should examine her general home environment and associated health risks situations. These include animals, her indoor and outdoor residence, and situational environmental hazards, e.g., cigarette smoking. However, we put emphasis on indoor health hazards, such as dirt and smoking. Currently, there are health standards that aim at minimizing risks at home and recognize preventative measures using environmental health guidelines.
Janet Smith lives with her husband and children. At the moment, the children are away from home. The outdoor environment presents a poorly kept garden. There are also holes on a concrete path leading to the house. This is a health hazard to the household. Moreover, there are many hazards at home. Although most local authorities provide outdoor maintenance, particularly in public places, maintenance at home remains a sole responsibility of the homeowner and the household. There are some household habits and activities, such as smoking, use of personal effects products and air fresheners, keeping animal pets, and medication treatment, which pose serious health hazards to the household.
Floor, carpet, and furniture are all covered with dust at Janet Smith’s residence. The bedroom is untidy with dirty items including a bird in a dirty cage, and unwashed clothes tacked at a corner. There always noise on the background coming from the television which is constantly on. These items are likely to harbour pollutants, dusts, and allergens that any family member may inhale. Still, poor cleaning of these items may result in moulds and bacteria that can cause serious health problems. This is not a suitable environment for recovery.
The nurse also noticed that Janet’s partner was opening the front door with difficulty. This implies that a wounded Janet would not be able to manage that door on her own.
Electric equipments, such as television and other gadgets, in Janet’s room can cause fire. Conditions of Janet’s bedroom can easily result in an accident, or fire. The nurse should assess the risk they present to the family and advise its members how to reduce these hazards. The nurse should also inform them about the fire precautions.
The bedroom environment is also a smoking environment because both Janet and Mike are smokers. Environmental health risk assessment is necessary for all the nurses. The role of the nurses is changing as home visits become part of their jobs. Home visits enable nurse students to acquire risk assessment techniques and environmental health risk assessment skills. This also enables students and nurses to apply knowledge from community assessment and use it in real community settings. Therefore, inclusion of community home visits and environment assessment is a fundamental part of nursing course.
Janet’s home at a glance reveals many issues of environmental and health concerns. The garden is unattended, and the concrete path has holes. The main door is difficult to open, and Mike reluctantly welcomes the nurse in claiming that they can manage on their own.
The bedroom where Janet rests is dirty. The carpet has stains and dusts. The television is always on making a constant background noise, and there is a bird in a dirty cage next to the bed. Janet also keeps a dog and two cats which are serious health hazards because of the infectious diseases they can carry. Both Janet and Mike are smokers notwithstanding the fact that smoking has serious health implications for both the active and the passive smokers. There are serious environmental health risks in Janet’s residence. Thus, the nurse must offer immediate recommendations and provide appropriate referrals to help Janet’s family reduce their level of exposures.
Studies have found out that cats and dogs that share beds with people are carriers of staph infections, meningitis, and plague. Janet Smith keeps both a dog and cats without knowing the risk. Her health condition makes her vulnerable to the viruses and bacteria carried by her pets due to her reduced immunity system. She also exposes her children to infectious diseases. Toxocariasis disease results from contacting with the soil or sand containing eggs of roundworm which are found in dog’s or cat’s excrements children (Rice, 1999). Janet Smith should stop sharing her bed with her cats and a dog to avoid possible infections. Her pets should receive a veterinarian care to check their health condition and to ensure in the safety of the household. The family should observe personal hygiene when handling wastes from the dog and cats.
Environmental Health Risk assessment exposes students and nurses to observational methods and skills necessary during the home visits in assessing environmental risks at patient’s place. Nursing focuses on health risks in a home environment and air pollution that happens indoors. These issues have become the main causes of injuries which worsen existing health conditions among the susceptible populations, such as sick people, infants, pregnant women, the elderly, and children (Rice, 1999). Smoking exposes the couple to high blood pressure, lung cancer, respiratory diseases, and cardiovascular diseases, as well as other illnesses. They also make their children to suffer from the effects of their smoking habits. In this case, they are passive smokers since the couple exposes them to smokes from their cigarettes.
Most diseases are caused by the environment that surrounds us. There are people who are prone to diseases from the environment. A dirty home environment exposes people to several health hazards, such as bacteria, mould, animals’ diseases, dusts, radon, and carbon monoxide, among the others. Nurses are useful in tackling effects of exposures from a health risk environment. Nurses can improve poor environment conditions by using risk assessment criteria and environment health education, and making appropriate recommendations on improving the lifestyle of patients (Edmondson and Williamson, 1998).
Nurses can use environment factors in assessing health risk factors in order to reduce various results derived from the tests to make the right diagnosis. Assessments of environmental risk situations also enable nurses to contribute towards risk reductions, preventive methods, and education. Nurses have opportunities of providing households with thorough environment assessments and offer immediate strategies for risk reductions. This also enables them to make appropriate referrals and obtain help from the available local resources (Rasmor and Brown, 2001).
There are different environmental risks reductions and interventions to the patients. Every family experiences some level of exposures. Nurses visit patients at home in order to get information about the possible health risk conditions caused by environment. These roles cover all the settings of nursing practice. Thus, every nurse can provide home assessment and information to reduce risks, as well as appropriate referral services to the patients. In this regard, nurses act as agents preventing these risks through providing screening activities, and education for patients (Snyder, Sattler and Strasser, 1994). Consequently, background knowledge in environmental issues is necessary for all the nurses without considering areas of specializations and settings.