You may have heard someone talk about it, or even seen many products in various stores that are aimed at improving the comfort or look of your feet… but why are feet so important?
It is said that the feet experience more wear and tear in a lifetime than any other body part and reportedly are the most neglected part of the body. For most of us, as long as our feet carry us from point “A” to point “B” we usually don’t give them any consideration at all. Did you know that by the time a person reaches the age of 85, they have walked an average distance of twice around the world! It is also important to know that the daily trauma experienced by our feet is cumulative…meaning that every time we stub our toe or wear ill-fitting shoes, we are slowly changing the way our feet appear and behave.
There is a great deal of evidence to suggest that foot problems can cause a great deal of pain and disability. Socrates is quoted as saying, “To him whose feet hurt, everything hurts.” Many surveys and studies will confirm the prevalence of foot problems among Canadians from the very young to very elderly. And although most people are born with healthy feet, as we grow older, most Canadians are at risk of developing a foot problem that will require medical attention.
People can seek foot care for many reasons, but generally speaking when pain or discomfort inhibit our daily activities it is time to seek professional care. Many times we don’t realize that even a small corn, callus, or thickened toenail can cause such discomfort that it can interfere with our everyday lives.
What is a Foot Care Nurse?
Nursing Foot Care is provided by a Registered Nurse or Licensed Practical Nurse who has taken the necessary post graduate training in foot care. Foot care nurses receive education specific to the prevention, diagnosis and management of common foot conditions and are dedicated to improving the health and well-being of clients with chronic diseases and/or disabilities throughout their lives. As nurses, we act on behalf of our clients and provide them with access to our skills and abilities that will in turn contribute to an improvement in their overall well-being.
Foot Care Nurses are required to hold a valid nursing license in order to provide a service which is recognized as a medical expense by Canada Revenue Agency and Veterans Affairs Canada. Nursing foot care services are covered by most extended health insurance plans, however it is encouraged to contact your provider to find out if it is included in your specific plan.
With an aging demographic; health care, health policies and public health issues concerning the quality of life are becoming major considerations. It is important to consider our personal needs and take the steps necessary to meet those needs. Sometimes taking care of one self means creating a team of professionals to assist us when we can no longer perform the tasks ourselves. We utilize these professionals on a regular basis to maintain our well-being. Going to the dentist or seeing a doctor are just some of the ways we use other people’s skills to help ourselves. Nursing foot care is an important component of today’s health care system.
What is the difference between “going for a pedicure” and “seeing a foot care nurse”?
A pedicure is the experience of visiting a nail care professional who acts to improve his or her clients’ appearance by taking care of their feet and toenails. Someone who provides a similar service, but instead for hands and fingernails is known professionally as a manicurist. You may find them working in spas, nail salons, hair styling shops, or even privately for premium services. A pedicurist is usually a part of a group of cosmetologists, which are people who generally improve the appearance of others. Any service that is dedicated to improving the look of one’s appearance is not considered a medical service.
Foot Care Nurses are dedicated to understanding the foot and how it functions in relation to the rest of the body. Nurses use this knowledge to promote optimal health to ensure their clients remain active members of their communities. Foot Care Nurses provide assessment, care and advice for clients, who have particular difficulty with looking after their feet. They have the educational training, experience and skills which make them uniquely qualified to manage a wide variety of foot conditions that can be complicated by medical conditions such as diabetes, arthritis, and various circulatory diseases. They also make referrals to other health care professionals when a particular concern is outside their area of expertise, such as recommendations for orthotics or specific medical interventions are required such as prescriptions.
Clients are often pleasantly surprised with their first experience of a nursing foot care session. Most often the nurse will obtain basic details about your health and mobility to establish a knowledge base of how best to help you. He or she will then begin by tending to your immediate concerns as well as providing the basic nail care required. Each person has different challenges, and the nurse is able to provide teaching while the treatments are being rendered. Some people have difficulty with dry feet, for example, and require suggestions for different creams or methods to best prevent dryness from occurring. Others struggle with specific pains in their feet or toes and may require suggestions on where to find the best orthotics, supports or shoes to help alleviate those pains. In each case, the nurse is tailoring the care specifically to the client’s needs.
The role of a Foot Care Nurse is to improve the condition of the feet by performing non-invasive care adapted to suit the client, and the appearance is naturally improved as a result of the services performed.
By Kaarina Schrott LPN, FCN
Kaarina Schrott is a Licensed Practical Nurse and the Owner/Operator of One Step Foot Care Inc. One Step Foot Care is the largest independent service provider of nursing foot care in the Okanagan, currently servicing clients from Summerland to Salmon Arm and is a mobile service that brings quality foot care to the comfort and privacy of your own home.