The person is a complex and dynamic being with unique values, behaviours and attributes that must be considered through a holistic approach (Pender, 1990). As a nurse in the intensive care environment it can easily become commonplace to see the person laying in the bed as nothing more than a diagnosis with issues that require fixing based on scientific facts and technical competence (McCormack, 2003). From this perspective, the person’s dignity and values will be overlooked and the holistic needs of the person will not be met.
McCormack (2003) presents a conceptual framework for person centered practice where a therapeutic narrative between nurse and person is built on mutual trust, understanding and sharing of information. Adopting this approach in the intensive care unit (ICU) enables the nurse to gain more understanding of who the patient is beyond the obvious indicators of gender, race, religion and geographical location. Due to the critical condition of ICU patients, involvement of the patient’s support system through open dialogue and organized family meetings is essential to gain a better understanding of the whole person.
A person embodies both an internal and external environment. Biological, physiological, cultural and