Care of the Vulnerable Adult

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INTRODUCTION
For the purposes of this essay the Elderly Care Scenario has been selected. The aim of this essay is to discuss the concept of vulnerability and why the patient in the Elderly Care Scenario is vulnerable. With reference to the NMC Code, the second part of the essay will discuss how the scenario demonstrates/does not demonstrate professional values and how the staff could have empowered the patient and demonstrated respect and maintained his dignity. The third part then discusses the anti-discriminatory issues within the scenario and how it could be promoted. The final part is a reflection on the assignment and the lessons learnt. THE CONCEPT OF VULNERABILITY

The human state of vulnerability is a concept of central concern to nurses, in that a large segment of nursing practice is spent either helping persons who find themselves in a vulnerable position or helping them stay away from vulnerability (Chesnay & Anderson, 2008). However, nursing, according to Spiers (cited in Chesnay & Anderson, 2008) has been slow in developing theoretical constructs of vulnerability within a nursing viewpoint. Traditional definitions of vulnerability are carved within an epidemiological approach to categorize individuals and groups at risk for harm. Specifically vulnerability can be defined as “susceptibility to physical or emotional injury, susceptibility to attack, open to censure or criticism, liable to succumb, as to persuasion or temptation” (American Heritage Dictionary, 2000, p.1). On the other hand a vulnerable adult, according to the Department of Health (2000) is a person “who is or may be in need of community care services by reason of mental or other disability, age or illness; and who is or may be unable to take care of him or herself, or unable to protect him or herself against significant harm or exploitation”. From the Elderly Care Scenario the patient, Mr. Jones is vulnerable because of his age (73 years), health (having suffered a stroke several years previously and being in the hospital again because of another stroke), and his difficulty to walk. Mr. Jones according to the story needs care services. His condition makes him unable to protect himself against significant exploitation. The marker for Mr. Jones’ vulnerability has been his inability to function independently. ISSUES OF PROFESSIONAL VALUES AND HOW THE PATIENT COULD HAVE BEEN EMPOWERED Elder abuse is a concern, which has not been given much notice in western society, and in general people know very little about the subject (Pritcard 1995). According to Eastman (1984, p. 23) abuse is “the systematic maltreatment, physical, emotional or financial of an elderly person…this may take the form of physical assault, threatening behaviour, neglect and abandonment or sexual assault”. Alternatively “abuse may be described as physical, sexual, psychological or financial. It may be intentional or unintentional or the result of neglect. It can also cause harm to the older person, either temporarily or over a period of time” (Social Services Inspectorate, 1993, p.3). It is because of these diverse views that the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has put together what it calls Standards of conduct, performance and ethics for nurses and midwives(The code 2008), to shepherd the behaviour and conduct of nurses in whose care people entrust their health and well-being. It is therefore within the context of the NMC Code (2008), and the literature examined above, that the Elderly Care Scenario will be discussed with the purpose of demonstrating how professional values were promoted or otherwise. Also to show how the staff could have empowered the patient while demonstrating respect and maintaining his or her dignity. Each trust has a ward policy and depending on the practice of the trust patient may be admitted into mixed sex wards, single sex wards and what have you. Therefore as a staff it is crucial to cross check with the particular trust what the ward policy is....
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