Lenninger (1984) described caring as the “essence of nursing”. Over the years many nursing theorists and researchers have examined the concept of caring and written extensively on the importance of caring in nursing. Going back to the foundation of modern nursing Nightingale (1859) wrote that nursing’s most important work is caring. Despite the wealth of ground covered in these works the term “care”, is rarely defined as a theoretical concept in its own right and is often used interchangeably with the term nursing (Gaut, 1983). In this article the author will explore the existing theoretical perspectives on caring. The author will attempt to show how nursing and caring are inherently linked and the important role that caring plays in job satisfaction for nurses as well as client satisfaction with the service provided. The article will also try to demonstrate the distinction between lay-caring and professional caring. Perspectives on caring
Lenninger (1981) defines care/caring as those assistive, supportive, or facilitative acts toward another individual with evident needs to improve their condition. This view of caring as an act of doing something to help a person is shared by other authors too. Caring is considered a series of helping activities (McFarlane, 1976). This is in-line with Orem’s (1985) theory of self care, which identifies five methods of giving assistance to an individual including acting for or doing for another, guiding another, supporting another, providing an environment that promotes personal development and teaching another. Emotional
Alternatively, caring is viewed as a therapeutic interpersonal process that can only be effectively practised interpersonally (Watson, 1979). Benner (1984) agrees and identifies an instrumental and expressive role in nursing for the concept of caring. Dunlop (1986) warns not to define caring as a finite set of behaviours as to do so would likely end in a distortion of its true meaning. Adding to this train of thought Duke & Copp (1992) describe nursing care as synergistic. To them caring is viewed as the hidden ingredient of nursing, the common thread running through all we do as nurses.
Consequently the argument that there is more to caring than can be seen physically has prompted some authors to describe it as an ethic. Kurtz & Wang (1991) indicate that there is a moral element to caring. Gadow (1985) regards caring as a moral ideal that entails a commitment to the protection and enhancement of human dignity. According to Fry (1988) in order for caring to serve as an ethical standard in nursing then it must be viewed as an overriding value to guide ones actions, it must be considered a universal value by all, caring must be other regarding and considered prescriptive, promoting empathy, support, compassion, protection etc. Caring is nursing
“Caring is nursing and nursing is caring” (Lenninger, 1984). Most professionals would agree completely that nursing and caring are intimately linked as illustrated by McFarlane (1976) who whilst defining care questioned weather it meant something different from nursing at all. Caring for people encompasses the humanistic trait of interacting with clients that demonstrates sincere care and concern for them simply because they are human beings. There is a variation between caring for people and with taking care of people. The latter emphasises objective, professional care, such as the medical and psychological aspects of nursing (Paulson, 2004). To sustain hospital services in the current economic climate cost reduction measures are required. Paulson (2004) infers that cost-cutting has contributed to the problem of client dissatisfaction. The problem is that the clients complain of an environment where they are treated in an efficient manner, without care and concern by nurses. She writes of a catch twenty two situation where the...