HEALTH AND NURSING CARE
Holistic and individual care of patients
According to the definition of the World Health Organisation (WHO), health is "a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity". This holistic view of the human being is becoming increasingly important in medical practice. In anthroposophical medicine, the sick individual has always been perceived and treated as an entire personality. Furthermore, the aim of anthroposophical doctors and therapists is to give the patient as much opportunity as possible to overcome the disease on their own, which gives the patient increased strength over the long term. As part of its Health and Nursing Care funding programme, the MAHLE FOUNDATION supports anthroposophic nursing, therapy and medicine.
Anthroposophic medicine as an extended form of orthodox medicine
More and more people are turning to alternative medicine, which is frequently considered to include Anthroposophic Medicine. However, this does not consider itself in any way to be an alternative to orthodox medicine, but instead a conscious addition and extension to it. Anthroposophical doctors are always medical specialists with a licence to practice as a doctor, as well as training as a consultant if necessary. Moreover, they have completed further training and education in the perceptions and healing methods of Anthroposophic Medicine, which was founded almost 100 years ago by Rudolf Steiner and Dr. Ita Wegman.
The fundamental principles of Anthroposophic Medicine are medical professionalism, as well as the appreciation of and a sense of responsibility towards the patient in his or her "special situation" of being ill. The patient is therefore considered both as a whole and individually, that is including his or her personality, biography, life circumstances and potentials. The consequence of this is that in most cases the relationship between the doctor and patient is particularly trusting. The illness itself is always understood in this context to be an opportunity for personal development. For example, in the treatment of inflammatory diseases, the infection is not suppressed if possible by prescribing antibiotics and fever-lowering drugs, but instead the aim is to provide the patient with the opportunity to overcome the illness on his or her own, thereby strengthening him or her over the long term. Fever, for example, is often regulated by lower-leg compresses and the accompanying symptoms treated by natural remedies in order to simultaneously and permanently improve the self-healing powers of the patient. If necessary, however, the standard conventional medical procedures such as the administration of antibiotics are always used.
Anthroposophic obstetrics and accompanying the terminally ill
Anthroposophic obstetrics is also becoming increasingly popular due to its well-known "gentle approach" and the respectful treatment of the mother and child, which also takes into account emotional changes during pregnancy – an aspect to which little attention is otherwise normally paid. In this approach, the women are taken seriously with their experiences, fears and wishes. An attempt is made to strengthen their personal responsibility and self-determination in dealing with the pregnancy, birth and their new life situation. In the field of anthroposophic obstetrics a natural birth is also attempted to the extent that this is possible. However, if complications occur, all means and opportunities for intervention are available. In anthroposophic delivery wards the caesarean birth rates are very low. Breastfeeding is also supported. External applications, such as rhythmic massages or liniments, are also offered.
Furthermore, Anthroposophic Medicine has proved to be an excellent aid in the care and support of the terminally ill. Through its sensitive and spiritually open approach to life on the verge of death, it allows the dying person to take a dignified farewell by creating an environment that supports them and their family on their chosen path. In addition to the physical care, the design of the surroundings is also important in anthroposophic end-of-life care. Attention is paid to the light, the room temperature and the odours, and it is ensured that the patient has enough space and does not feel cramped.
Examples of support from the MAHLE FOUNDATION in the field of health and nursing care
The Filder Clinic - the main support project of the MAHLE FOUNDATION
A major concern of the MAHLE FOUNDATION is the establishment and further development of Anthroposophic Medicine in Germany and abroad, and in particular the training and education of anthroposophic doctors and nursing staff. The main funding project in this field is the Filder Clinic in Filderstadt-Bonlanden, which was established in 1975 at the initiative of the founders of the Foundation Hermann and Dr. Ernst Mahle. This is one of Germany's three large anthroposophic acute care hospitals whose function is to provide primary care. As not only a shareholder, but also the largest sponsor, the MAHLE FOUNDATION played a decisive role in supporting the construction of the clinic and is permanently committed to its expansion and modernisation. Furthermore, the facilities of the Filder Clinic are provided with additional funds for research projects and the training of doctors and nursing staff.
The main points of focus of the clinic are gynaecology, obstetrics, internal medicine, surgery, paediatrics and oncology. In addition to standard forms of treatment, all of the departments at the Filder Clinic make use of complementary procedures. Besides physiotherapy or psycho-oncology, special anthroposophic therapies are also used, such as painting and music therapy or rhythmical massages. These are intended to promote the analysis by the patient of their own situation and their own life, and thereby support the patient's ability to overcome their illness and further their own personal development.
Research, teaching and international projects in the field of health and nursing care
In addition to the Filder Clinic, there are numerous other funding activities in the field of health and nursing care. In the summer semester of 2004, for example, the University of Witten/Herdecke – supported by the MAHLE FOUNDATION – started the "Integrated Course of Additional Studies in Anthroposophic Medicine" as Germany's first systemic university education of its kind. The aim of this is to overcome the dualism between orthodox and complementary medicine and include it as integrative medicine in the scientific discourse of teaching and research.
The MAHLE FOUNDATION also has international commitments, especially at the sites of the MAHLE Group. Medical projects play a major role here. One example is Brazil: The work of the Foundation here is aimed at contributing towards the humanisation of medicine and therefore establishing Anthroposophic Medicine in the health system. This involves above all making this form of medical care available to all strata of the population. For example, the MAHLE FOUNDATION supports Casa Angela, among others, which is the first state-recognised birthing centre in the state of São Paulo. Here the mother and her child are able to experience a natural, gentle and dignified birth in a family-oriented, trustful and protected atmosphere – which is not a matter of course by Brazilian standards, especially for the poor strata of the population. It is often the case that women from these strata of the population give birth in locations which are unacceptable and dangerous for the mother and child, resulting in high levels of infant and maternal mortality.