The Concept of Caring in Nursing
Caring distinguishes what matters to someone and involves portraying that something or someone matters to you. (Potter, Perry, Stockert, & Hall, 2013, p. 80) It is a process in which the patient as well as you as an individual benefits and grows. This is what caring can be defined as but it is does it no justice because there is no way to summarize it into a single definition. Many theories are around that help us to understand how caring can be used in nursing to provide better quality patient care including works from Leininger, Watson, and Swanson. In nursing today, caring is a very important concept that sometimes seems to get put on the back burner as nurses get caught up in the skills and knowledge required to carry out their duties. Using effective communication, providing presence, active listening, attending to the patient’s needs, creating trust, respecting beliefs/values, maintaining dignity, and conveying competence are just a few of the many things that help to demonstrate caring within the nurse-patient relationship. Throughout the novel House Arrest, Ellen Meeropol conveys the story of a visiting nurse and her unexpected assignment and she unveils the importance of caring as she describes the formation of the relationship between the main characters Emily and Pippa. (2011) As I describe the relevance of caring and the reason behind why I chose this topic I will use examples from this novel to further my explanations.
The focus of nursing has gradually shifted more towards holistic care, which is why this topic is relevant. Skills and knowledge help to meet the patient’s physical needs but caring can help attain mental, spiritual, emotional, and social well-being. Sometimes a patient’s physical needs are not a top priority but in order to reach a higher level of health or to recover from an illness other aspects take precedence. It is the nurse’s job to be able to identify which aspects need to be taken care of first because if not assessed properly they may cause barriers to reaching health goals. In the novel, Emily not only has to explain to Pippa about proper prenatal care (physical) but she has uncovered details about her family structure including her husband being in jail (social/emotional) and her spiritual following in the Family of Isis which are more of a priority considering they will ultimately affect her cooperation with the plan of care. (Meeropol, 2011, pp.13-17) This is one of the reasons why I chose the topic of caring because I see how many people assume that physical needs are always a top priority when other aspects may be obstacles that will halt a person’s progress towards their health goals. Other aspects also affect the individualized care you must give to each unique assignment. No two patients are alike.
Another reason this topic is so relevant is because caring needs to be expressed in order to create a trusting relationship with your patient. As the relationship progresses you want to establish mutual trust so that the patient will tell you everything in order for you to better help them. Without this trust you can only treat them for what they choose to tell you about which makes it more difficult on you. In the novel Pippa says, “Don’t you fuss about the doctor Tian, because the nurse promised to come with me... She’ll make sure nothing bad happens” (Meeropol, 2011, p. 20). Even though Pippa is against the idea of going to the doctor and having him do this procedure she trusts that Emily will be there to comfort and protect her. With trust a patient can also believe that as a nurse you will look out for their best interests regardless of what others may think. This is apparent in the novel when Emily called her patient Mrs. Newman’s attending doctor to report that it was unsafe for her to be living alone regardless of what her boss Marge would think. (Meeropol, 2011) When confronted by Marge Emily says, “It’s better for her. She wasn’t...
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