The meaning of caring as narrated, lived, moral experience
Abstract: The purpose of this research was to understand the meaning of caring as narrated, lived, moral experience. Forty-five good nurses experienced in the care of patients in surgical, medical and geriatric wards were interviewed. They described their experience of; caring, caring abilities, the worthwhile of caring, the strength related to caring and narrated situations (n=88) in which they had experienced that their caring had made a difference to the patient. Surgical nurses described care and cure as an integrated whole, medical nurses described care as integrated with the patients' social context and geriatric nurses described care as enhancing the autonomy of patients (I). The nurses' narrated, lived, experiences of caring situations revealed ways of intervening and interacting with the patient including caring actions (II).Eighteen good nurses experienced in the care of cancer patients were also interviewed. Their narrated, lived experiences of morally difficult care situations i.e. situations where it had been hard to know what was the right and good thing to do for the patient (n=60), revealed that relationships with their co-workers were very important for their possibility to act according to their moral reasoning and feelings(III). The situations for the nurses were either disclosed as overwhelming or possible to grasp. When narrating about these situations the nurses used different terms about themselves and their co-workers (One, They, I and We). The nurses viewed the patients either as a task to be accomplished or as a valuable unique person. In the latter situations ethical demands were interpreted, judged and acted upon (IV). Interpretations of these nurses' skills in managing morally difficult care situations disclosed two levels; one group of nurses who described positive paradigm cases, liberating maxims and disclosed open minds, while the other group described negative paradigm cases, restrictive maxims and revealed closed minds. The latter nurses were mostly the nurses who disclosed in Paper III that they used the term "one" about themselves and "they" about their co-workers (V).en patients recently cared for at surgical and medical wards were interviewed(IV). They narrated lived experiences of receiving/not receiving the help they needed or wanted when suffering from pain and anxiety/fear. The patients revealed that the most important thing for them to feel cared for in these situations was to be listened to, taken seriously and trusted, if they were not treated in this way the patients revealed that they felt they were in the hands of somebody who was uncaring.The findings are interpreted within the framework of Paul Tillich's philosophy concerning love, power, justice and courage, thereby showing the tension between these phenomena in the narrated, lived, moral experience. Light is also thrown on the dynamics of openness, vulnerability, fallibility, forgiveness, affirmation as well as powerlessness, meaninglessness, insufficiency, dissociation and exclusion. Reflections are made concerning practical wisdom.
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