The Oxford Dictionary defines caring as the work or practice of looking after, as well as, displaying kindness and concern for those who are unable to care for themselves, especially on account of age or illness. Meanwhile, Miller-Keane and OToole (2003) terms caring as an interpersonal process which requires an emotional commitment coupled with willingness to fulfil combined responsibilities and to be trustworthy enough to act on behalf of a person.
“Caring is the central concept in the discipline of nursing” (Vance 2003). , therefore caring is the principle objective of the nursing profession (Leininger 1991). If it is delivered correctly, caring can preserve life or allow a patient to have a peaceful death (Vance 2003). Edwards (2001) refers to caring as having three types. They are ‘deep care’, ‘intentional care’ and ‘identity constituting care’, which all pertain to the level of care an individual needs in order to meet their satisfaction of being cared for. What is common amongst them is that the nurse gives care willingly while the patient returns a conscious favour of gratitude.
It is evident that nursing theorists, scholars and health care professions have varying interpretations of what caring is or should be. Caring is not atypical or has a singular meaning but instead is viewed as an action that must be uniquely tailored to the recipient’s needs. The most common view is that, when caring, there should be an established relationship of trust, knowledge of care delivery process, commitment and willingness to care (Watson 2011). Florence Nightingale (1860, 1970) states that in addition to treating a disease, that caring and self-healing can take place once an environment conducive for good health (i.e. fresh air, light, cleanliness, warmth, calm, good diet, monitoring and observation) is facilitated with hope and advice while being realistic (Baughan & Smith 2008). Similarly, Abdellah (1979) emphasises that caring should also be focussed on attending to the patient’s needs, encouraging self-help ability where possible and not just on the curing of the illness. McCormack and McCance (2010) highlights the fact that nurses should be professionally capable and able to demonstrate the competence required in their tasks or caring procedures.
Caring, according to Watson (2011) require a personal, social, moral and spiritual engagement of the nurse and a commitment to one’s self and other human beings. Therefore, it is not just an emotional concern, or benevolent desire (Watson 2011) but a moral ideal whereby the end result should be the safety, improved awareness and preservation of human dignity. Other attributes of caring, which are required as a prior condition (McCormack and McCance 2010) include listening attentively and delivering information accurately so that the patient can make an informed choice. It is also important to have patience, empathy and can use touch and comforting words to quell a patient’s feelings of anxiety. A gentle touch on the shoulder can help to transform a distressing event into a manageable situation.
Caring requires the bilateral unification between the carer and the recipient, whose common goal is to ensure that needs are being met. So, before caring occurs, the recipient (or next of kin if recipient cannot make an informed decision) should indicate their willingness to accept it. Care should not be forced upon an individual especially if it is not wanted, as patients should be given the freedom of...