Self-care deficit is a condition in which an individual is unable to perform certain daily activities related to health and well-being, such as dressing or bathing. This can be due to physical or mental impairments, such as recovery from surgery, depression, or age-related mobility problems. Nurses play a vital role in addressing self-care deficits through evaluation and intervention. Evaluation involves assessing the patient's strengths, weaknesses, environment, and situational needs. Intervention may include helping patients set short-term goals, stimulating motivation, creating opportunities for independence, and providing assistance with daily activities.
The Self-Care Deficit Theory was developed by Dorothea E. Orem to improve the quality of nursing in general hospitals. The theory is relatively straightforward and can be applied to a wide range of patients. Nurses can use it to guide and enhance their practice, but it must be consistent with other validated theories, laws, and principles. Orem's approach to the nursing process provides a method for determining self-care deficits and then defining patient or nurse roles to meet personal care demands. Specialized technologies are often developed by members of the healthcare industry.
The nurse implements the health care plan to meet the goals set by the patient and their healthcare team and evaluates the nursing care by interpreting the results of the plan's implementation. An evaluation is necessary to identify potential issues that may have caused a self-care deficit, as well as any episodes that may occur during nursing care. Nursing systems theory explains how the nurse, the patient, or both will meet the patient's self-care needs. It helps nurses decide which aspects of patient care they should focus on in a given situation and emphasizes the importance of patients maintaining autonomy over their self-care processes. Self-care refers to activities that a person performs independently throughout life to promote and maintain personal well-being. When nurses detect signs of a self-care deficit in patients, they look for ways to help them while allowing them individual autonomy.
Additionally, people suffering from depression may not have an interest in participating in self-care activities. Mental or physical challenges can be the cause of people not being able to take care of themselves properly. According to Orem, breastfeeding is necessary when an adult is unable or limited in providing continuous and effective self-care. The deficit can be temporary, such as when recovering from surgery, or the result of a gradual deterioration that erodes an individual's ability or willingness to perform activities necessary for self-care. Orem's 1971 theory of self-care deficit is still taught in nursing schools today and has helped shape the holistic approach nurses take towards patient care.