Critique Of Kristen Swanson’s Theory Of Caring Assignment.

Critique Of Kristen Swanson’s Theory Of Caring Assignment.

Nurses are best known for being natural caregivers and Swanson’s Theory of Caring focuses on teaching and healing during pregnancy. Her theory gives insight on how families and healthcare providers deal with miscarriages and the healing process that is necessary to provide closure. When entering the field of Labor and Delivery, I was unaware that I would have to deal with women who have miscarriages and stillborn births. I was very intimidated and nervous when I had to do the actual delivery of a fetal demise, but now I feel very comfortable with this process because I am able to provide these patients with support in their time of need. Swanson’s Theory incorporates adaptive methods that not only help the family through the healing process, but teaches the nurse methods to help the family emotionally and physically. Critique Of Kristen Swanson’s Theory Of Caring Assignment.
The human caring theory is a grand theory that was developed by Watson in the 1970’s, then in 1991, Swanson proposed her caring theory which is a middle range theory consisting of five caring processes (Chen & Chou, 2010). Swanson’s five caring processes include knowing, which is striving to understand an event. Being with, which is being emotionally present. Doing for, this is where you do for the patient as they would do for themselves if they were able. Enabling, facilitating the patient through life transitions which are unfamiliar to them. Lastly, maintaining belief, sustaining faith helps patients get through the process (Polit & Beck, 2004).
In my clinical practice, I incorporate all five of Swanson’s caring processes. When I have a patient who has just gone through a miscarriage I provide empathy and strive to understand her grief, I give the family space and time, and I listen when they are ready to talk. I show my patient that I am emotionally connected by touching her on her arm or hand and letting her know how deeply sorry I am for her loss and that I can’t imagine what she is going through at this fragile time. I do for my patient what they would normally do for themselves, by providing privacy, peri-care, nutrition, and comfort. Critique Of Kristen Swanson’s Theory Of Caring Assignment.I help my patient through this unfamiliar event by placing a leaflet on her door so other healthcare workers know that a fetal demise has occurred. I also create a keepsake box that includes a book that the family can write their feelings in. I provide my patients with literature on the healing process, funeral homes for the infant, and support groups that they can attend or websites that they can refer to. Most importantly, I attempt to provide closure by encouraging them to hold the baby. If these patients are able to get closure they will have hope and be able to face a future with meaning.

References
Chen, S., & Chou, F. (2010). A comparison of the caring theories of Watson and Swanson [Chinese]. Journal Of Nursing, 57(3), 86-92.
Polit, D. and Beck, C.T. (2004). Nursing research: Principles and methods. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Tiffany Maxton received her BSN from Broward College. She is a Labor & Delivery nurse working in a variety of roles including: specializing in high risk/complicated pregnancies, circulating in operating room, triage, antepartum, recovery room, and assisting with fetal demises.
When on the Labor & Delivery unit, Tiffany observed the health care profession which often overlooked the need to show empathy, resources, and compassion to families experiencing a fetal demise. She has a strong urge to provide critical nursing care and strives to show compassion not only to patients delivering a baby, but to those experiencing a loss. She seeks to gain a connection with her patients by listening, understanding, and anticipating their needs. Critique Of Kristen Swanson’s Theory Of Caring Assignment.

N ursing is informed caring for the well-being of others.
As Carper ( 1978) has noted, nurse caring is informed
by empirical knowledge from nursing and the related
sciences, as well as ethical, personal and aesthetic
knowledge derived from the humanities, clinical
experience and personal and societal values and expectations.
Assumptions Underlying Caring
Persons/Clients

Watson (1985) proposed that how nurses view persons and
define personhood sets the stage for who the clients of nursing
are, and what constitutes the practices, environments and goals
of nursing care. Persons are unique beings who are in the
midst of becoming and whose wholeness is made manifest in
thoughts, feelings and behaviors. The experienced life of each
person is influenced by a genetic heritage, spiritual endowment
and the capacity to exercise free will. Persons in their wholeness
are not stagnant; rather, as Travelbee (1971) has noted, they
are becoming, growing, self-reflecting and seeking to connect
with others. Persons both mold and are molded by the
environment in which they exist. Critique Of Kristen Swanson’s Theory Of Caring Assignment.The genetic heritage serves
as a blueprint for each person’s unique human characteristics.
The spiritual endowment connects each being to an eternal
and universal source of goodness, mystery, life, creativity and
serenity. The spiritual endowment may be a soul, higher power1
Holy Spirit. positive energy, or, simply grace. Free will equates
with choice and the capacity to decide how to act when
confronted with a range of possibilities. While acknowledging
free will does mandate that nurses honor individuality, it may
also delude us into believing that the “range of possibilities”
are equally available, acceptable and desirable to all persons.
Practice based on such parochial egocentric assumptions have
historically lead health care providers to label wrongfully
clients as irresponsible and non-compliant, set up health care
delivery systems that are convenient to providers versus
accessible to consumers and sacrifice client centered care at
the altars of technology, economics and provider egos.
Schultz (1987) has identified that the “other” whose
personhood nurses attend to may be individuals or aggregates
(i.e., families, groups or societies). Most often, the “other”
will be a specified individual or aggregate, however, it may
also be a generalized other. For example, the generalized other
may be future generations or social issues such as freedom of
speech, human rights or access to health care. One last
additional class of otherlpersonior client to whom nurses attend
is actually an awkward use of the word other and refers to
! Kristen M. Swanson, RN, PhD, FAAN, Psi-At-L,lrg~, is Associate Professor
i of Parent ~nd Child Nursing at the Univrrs~ty of Washington. This ,jrt~cle
is based on insights derived irom roc~nwling women in the, Mi\carri.~ge
Caring Project, funded by the National Center ior Nu~sing Rezearch iR29
NR01899). Special thanks to Carol Lc,ppa, RN, PhD, Katherine Klaich.
KN, PhC, md Suzmned Sikma, EN, PhC rl the ‘vli~arriage Ciring
1 Project. Correspondence to University of Wa\hington, P,jrent and Child
1 Nursing SC-74, Seattlt!, WA 981 95. I Accepted for publication May 11, 1993.
352 – — IMAGE: journal oi Nurs~ng Scholarship
-A — lu~~r~,~?. ,,L l~l~~,~?~!i ‘ .,-,I?.’ 1.. ll,~. LVs~ Yen;, i>: Otll..,
care of self. Self-as-other refers to the well-being of each
nurses’ self and herlhis nursing and the well-being of all nurses
and their nursing. Critique Of Kristen Swanson’s Theory Of Caring Assignment.
Environment
Environment is defined situation ally. For nursing, it is any
context that influences or is influenced by the designated client.
Realms of influence are multiple, including the cultural,
political, economic, social, biophysical, psychological and
spiritual realms. When examining the influence of
environments on persons, it is helpful to consider the demands,
constraints and resources brought to the situation by the
participant(s) and the surrounding environment (Klausner,
197 1). What is considered client in some situations, may serve
as context or environment in other circumstances. For example,
in some nursing care situations the community may be the
client (i.e., nurses acting politically about the need for safe
play areas for inner-city children), at other times it may be the
environment (i.e., nurse assessment of how the school system
accommodates the needs of a specific child with a chronic
health condition.) For heuristic purposes the lens on
environmentldesignated client may actually be further specified
to the intra-individual level, wherein the “client” may be at
the cellular level and the environment may be the organs,
tissues or body of which the cell is a component.
Health/Well-being
Smith (1981) has delineated four views of health that include
health as: absence of illness; ability to perform one’s roles;
capacity to adapt; and as the pursuit of eudemonistic wellbeing. Nurses focus on how clients are living with whatever
illness or wellness condition they may be in. As nurses our
focus is not so much on disease amelioration, per se, as it is
on assisting clients to attain, maintain or regain the optimal
level of living or well-being they choose given their personal
and environmental demands, constraints and resources. Well being is living in such a state that one feels integrated and
engaged with living and dying. Critique Of Kristen Swanson’s Theory Of Caring Assignment.When nurses focus on health
as well-being, our care must take into account what it means
to be whole persons who are becoming, growing, self-reflecting
and seeking to connect with others.
To experience well-being is to live the subjective, meaningfilled, experience of wholeness. Wholeness involves a sense
of integration and becoming wherein all facets of being are
free to be expressed. Iacets of being include the many selves
that make us human: our spirituality. thoughts, feelings,
intelligence, creativity, relatedness, femininity, masculinity and
sexuality, to name just a few. Healing, the process of
reestablishing well-being, includes releasing inner pain,
establishing new meanings, restoring integration and emerging
into a sense of renewed wholeness.
Health, illness, deviance and pathology are socially defined
phenomena. As so defined, they are influenced by societal
values, political ideations, cultural norms and economic
conditions. Socially defined phenomena frequently wreak havoc
with the becoming and healing necessary to the realization of
well-being. For example, when a woman miscarries a desired
pregnancy her spiritual, maternal, feminine and sexual selves
are challenged to reestablish meanings that allow her to
experience a renewed sense of integration wherein her personal
biography includes the experience of having miscarried a
longed-for child. The seeking and becoming of well-being
requires a safe space for acquiring information, releasing the
pain of sadness and fear and expressing longing for the lost
loved one. When no such arena exists and the woman is given
socially defined dictums of what is normal (i.e., “At your age,
it was a blessing;” “It’s been two months, aren’t you over that
yet?”), her attempts at reestablishing well-being are thwarted.
Her many selves are left disintegrated and a feeling of
wholeness is replaced with one of inadequacy.
Nurses and Informed Caring
Nurses “diagnose and treat human responses to actual or
potential health problems” (American Nurses Association
Social Policy Statement, 1980). This description clarifies our
functional role to the publics we serve and underscores the
importance of nurses providing care to clients (individuals or
aggregates) who are currently dealing with or potentially facing
health deviations. But this language does not, capture the
essence of nursing’s values, history, expertise, knowledge,
universality and passion. Those whom we serve, how we serve
and why we continue to serve mandate an impassioned
integration of science, self, concern for humanity and caring.
Consummated in transactions among nursing and society and
each nurse and client are the profession’s commitments to
caring, the preservation of human dignity and enhancement of
well-being for all.

Informed nurse caring ranges from having novice to expert
capacity in practice. As Benner ( 1984) has noted, novice nurses
may care very deeply about the well-being of others, yet their
repertoire of caring therapeutics may be somewhat constricted.
For example, in order to proceed safely, novice nurses may
need to restrict their definition of other to “this patient’s
wound,” and their definition of well-being to “infection and
pain avoidance.” In contrast, the informed expert nurse would
view the other as an individual who is ultimately capable of
managing her own wound. The expert would modulate care
between what shelhe needs do to assure safety and what the
client must do to learn self-care. An expert nurse has a deeper
understanding of what constitutes well-being. a broader scope
of caring practices, and a wider view of who or what constitutes
“the other.” Critique Of Kristen Swanson’s Theory Of Caring Assignment.
The techniques and knowledge embedded in nurse caring
often are so subtle as to remain virtually undisclosed to the
uninformed observer. For example, when a newborn intense e
care unit nurse places a pacifier in a preterm infant’s mouth a
minute or two prior to diapering (for the compromised infant
an energy draining activity), unless one appreciates the
importance of non-nutritive sucking as a self-soothing, oxygen
conserving infant self-care behavior, the rationale for thc
nursing therapeutic of pacifier placement would be glanced
over. &.hen, in fact, the nursing act was based on aesthetics, a
sense of the whole of what works for this infant’$ overall
well-being; caring ethics, which raised the child from the
Volume 25. Number 4, LZ4nter 1993
moral status of object to one of a person whose self-soothing
abilities mattered; empirical evidence, which demonstrates
that non-nutritive sucking can lessen neuro behavioral
disorganization in the face of manipulative interventions; and
self-knowledge, or the nurses’ sense of how shethe would
wish to be treated were sheathe in the infant’s position.
‘4s Reverby (1987) has noted, just as nursing knowledge is
hidden in caring acts, the acts themselves are likewise
frequently hidden, undervalued and under rewarded. Some of
the reasons that nurses, their knowledge and their nursing are
so little appreciated and greatly concealed include: The fact
that nursing is frequently dismissed as “women’s work:”
carving tasks often are viewed as coming from the heart
and not from the brain; nursing is perceived by many as an
extension of medicine involving technical skills and a
willingness to obey; and our society values curing disease
and circumventing death over preventing health problems,
enhancing life quality and preserving personal dignity.
It takes a person schooled in “nursing appreciation” to fully
see the beauty in expert nursing practice. For some, the
appreciation comes from having been the recipient of expert
nursing. In those instances, the appreciative audience has a
non-indexical way of defining care and resorts to superlatives
(Great! Wonderful! So caring!) to capture the beauty of their
experience. For others, nurses, appreciation comes from formal
education and clinical practice wherein we know good nursing
when we see it; yet we, too, may be without words if good
nursing is what we routinely practice. In other words, good
nursing is the cultural norm and as such is difficult to describe
from within the culture. Disseminated nursing appreciation
must come from those (nurses and non-nurses) who
deliberately observe and in the words of their own disciplines
say back to nurses and their care recipients just what is
precious about nursing. Some of the products of “nursing
aficionados” have included Notes on Nursing, (Nightingale,
1859); Ordered to Care (Reverby, 1987); The Cancer Unit:
An Ethnography (Germain, 1979); Intensive Care (Heron,
1987); Midwife and Other Poems on Nursing (Krysl, 1989);
From Novice to Expert (Benner, 1984); A Family Caregiving
Model for Public Health Nursing (Zerwekh, 1991) and
Providing Care in the NICU: Sometimes an Act of Love
(Swanson, 1990). Not all of these “nursing appreciation
majors” are nurses, thus suggesting that nursing (informed
caring for the well-being of others) may be observed,
understood and interpreted by those who are willing to
thoughtfully observe and inductively describe nurses and their
practice. Critique Of Kristen Swanson’s Theory Of Caring Assignment.
Making the claim that nursing is informed caring for the
well-being of others does not mean that only nurses are caring,
and that all nursing practice situations may be characterized
as caring. It aIso does not suggest that nursing is the only
profession whose practice involkes informed caring. What it
does claim is that the therapeutic practices of nurscs are
grounded in knowledge of nursing, related sciences, and the
humanities, as well personal insight and experiential
understanding and that the goal of nurse caring is to enhance
the \bell-being of its recipients. It is the blend of knowledge/
information and the goal of practice that distinguishes nursing
from others whose practices includes caring.
The Structure of Caring
In 1991, 1 described a middle range theory of caring that
was empirically derived through phenomenological inquiry
in three perinatal nursing contexts. Citing corroborative nursing
and non-nursing literature, it was postulated that the theory
may have generalizability beyond the perinatal contexts studied
and beyond the practice of nurses only. Since publishing the
theory of caring, it has become apparent that a limitation is a
lack of structure to the theory as to how the five proposed
caring processes relate to each other. In this section, in addition
to reviewing the major components of the theory of caring, a
structure is proposed and justified for my theory of caring.
The five caring processes and sub-dimensions are not
suggested to be unique to nursing, they are proposed as
common features of caring relationships. Caring is defined as
“a nurturing way of relating to a valued other toward whom
one feels a personal sense of commitment and responsibility”
(1 99 1 ). Key words in this definition include: nurturing (growth
and health producing); way of relating (occurs in relationships);
to a valued other (the one cared-for matters); toward whom
one feels a personal (individualized and intimate); sense of
commitment (bond, pledge, or passion); and responsibility
(accountability and duty). Whereas this definition applies to
all caring relationships, relationships of central concern for
nursing include nurse to client, nurse to nurse, and nurse to
self. In keeping with the overall purpose of this manuscript
(to deal with the claim that nursing is informed caring for the
well-being of others) the remaining discussion of the caring
theory is restricted to its applicability to nursing.
Maintaining Belief
An orientation to caring begins with a fundamental belief
in persons and their capacity to make it through events and
transitions and face a future with meaning. As illustrated in
Figure 1, maintaining belief in persons is at the base of
caring, it is from this stance that nurses define what matters
and where to address care. Whether nurses articulate it, clients
are approached with a conviction that there is personal meaning
to be found in whatever health condition or developmental
challenge the person is facing.
Maintaining belief is a foundation to the practice of nurse
caring. It is sustaining faith in the capacity of others to get
through events or transitions and face a future with meaning
that initiates and sustains nurse caring. Such an orientation
fuels nursing and nurses to a commitment to serve humanity
(in general) and each client (in specific). On the societal
level, it is belief in the rights of all people to get through
events and face a meaningful future that motivates nurses to
political activism around such matters as access to care and
the need for health care reform. On the interpersonal level,
maintaining belief is evident in the case of a nurse who cares
for a couple laboring to birth their stillborn daughter. In this
example, the nurse’s care centers on monitoring the mother’s
– – – – – – – — -p— ~ ~- ~ ~ . ~-~ —- ~~ – ~ . – Critique Of Kristen Swanson’s Theory Of Caring Assignment.
The Structure of Caring
Therapeutic I the clinical condition (in actions I
(client (in specific) I and client (in specific
I
I I I
py!) being
Intended
outcome
Figure 1 : ‘The structure of caring as linked to the nurses’ philosophical attitude, informed understandings, message conveyed,
therapeutic actions and intended outcome.
physical and emotional safety while assuring the couple’s long term healing. The nurse sustains faith that the couple, with her
guidance, will safely and humanely get through the immediate
birth and death. Fundamentally, the nurse believes in the
family’s capacity to create both a dignified passage for their
child and a meaning-filled future for themselves: a future
wherein their daughter and her birth and death will have a
peaceful, permanent meaning in their family’s day to day
existence.
Knowing
If maintaining belief is at the base of nurse caring, knowing
is the anchor that moors the beliefs of nurses l nursing to the
lived realities of those served. Knowing is striving to understand
events as they have meaning in the life of the other. Knowing
translates the idealism of belief maintenance into the realism
of the human condition. It involves avoiding assumptions.
centering on the one(s) cared for, thoroughly assessing all
aspects of the client’s condition and reality, and ultimately
engaging the self or personhood of the nurse and client in a
caring transaction. In effect, nurse knowing sets the potential
for the nursing therapeutics of being with, doing for and
enabling to be perceived as relevant and, ultimately, effective
in promoting client well-being.
The efficiency and efficacy of knowing as a caring therapeutic
is enhanced by empirical. ethical and aesthetic knowledge of
the range of responses humans have to actual and potential
health problems. Formal nursing education that includes content
on physical, cultural, spiritual, and emotional responses to
conditions of wellness and illness prepare nurses to throw a
wide net when casting for any one client’s lived reality.
Experience with clients with similar conditions, or a given
client under differing conditions, hones a nurse’s capacity to
know the meaning of an event in a given client’s life. A
nurse’s knowledge of self sets the stage for how willing a
nurse is to truly know another’s realit) and just how capable
sheihe is to contain herlhis needs and center on the client’s
lived realit!,. On a disciplinary level, nurses’ clarity on our
Volume 25. Number 4, W~ntrr lq93 ——
own perspectives and contributions, sets the agenda for nursing
scholarship and promotes the potential for truly knowing and
serving the health needs of society.
Being With
Being with, being emotionally present to other. is the caring category that conveys to clients that they and their experiences matter to the nurse. Emotional presence is a way of sharing in the meanings, feelings and lived experience of the one-cared
for. Being with assures clients that their reality is appreciated and that the nurse is ready and willing to be there for them.
Being there includes not just the side-by-side physical presence but also the clearly conveyed message of availability and ability to endure with the other. For inpatient nursing, the call bell that is accessible and readily responded to is a type of being there. For nurses who work in community or outpatient settings there are several methods of conveying “you are not alone, what happens to you matters and that we are here for you.”
Some of these methods include sharing clinic phone numbers and permission to call anytime, giving nurse pager instructions and assurance of immediate access, and even arranging for electronic mail computer linkages between rural home-bound clients and urban health care facilities.
To be with another is to give time. authentic presence, attentive listening and contingent reflective responses. In many ways to he with another is to give simply of the self and to do so in such a way that the one cared for realizes the commitment, concern and personal attentiveness of the one caring. Being with ranges from offering a joyful cheer at birth, to crying with the bereaved, to sharing the frustration of a family caregiver, to canying a 23-hour beeper so that the adolescent with leukemia knows that his nurse is just a phone call awa). Critique Of Kristen Swanson’s Theory Of Caring Assignment.
When being with nurses do so, with a sense of responsibility toward both the client and self, remaining ever aware of who is provider and who is recipient in any given clinical situation
There is a fine line between sharing the other’s reality and taking on that reality as your own. When such boundaries are crossed, painful outcomes are bound to ensue. Failure to remain  responsible to client and self results in nursing care that burdens clients, iessens the nurse’s well-being and ultimately diminishes the nurse’s personal and professional relationships and role performance. Given that nurses work in settings where the best and worst life has to offer can be commonplace, nurse ~administrators must set up organizations that take into account the peed to care for and promote caring among nurses. In order to care without burdening themselves, their clients or their Families, nurses must get their work related needs met through self-care and communities of caring in which the interpersonal work ethic is to be there for each other.
Doing For
Virginia Henderson captured the essence of doing for in her often quoted definition of nursing:
The unique function of the nurse is to assist the individual,
sick or well. in the performance of those activities contributing to health or its recovery (or to peaceful death) that he would perform unaided if he had the necessary strength, will, or knowledge. And to do this in such a way as to help him gain independence as rapidly as possible.
(Hcndcrson, 1966).
Doing Ibr, simply put, is doing for the other what they would do for themselves if it were at all possible. Doing for involves actions on the part of the nurse that are performed on behalf of the client’s long term well-being. There is an efficacious to these actions, wherein the nurse acts
ultimately to preserve the other’s wholeness. Short-sighted, misplaced efficiency occurs when the actions are solely toward immediate preservation of the caregiver’s time, energy or finances. Classic health care examples of not doing for include administering prematurely an episiotomy on behalf of the obstetrical care provider’s over-booked schedule, quickly bathing and dressing an elderly client who is perfectly capable of slowly dressing herself or hastily hauling infants off to the newborn nursery versus leaving them in proximity to their mother’s loving gaze, nurturing milk and bodily warmth.
Doing for includes comforting the other, anticipating their needs, performing competently and skillfully, protecting the other from undo harm and ultimately preserving the dignity of the one done for. Although it may appear that doing for actions are primarily psycho motor nursing ministrations, this is not
always the case.
In the psycho social realm of care, doing for generally involves not so much physical ministrations, per se, as the employment of interpersonal therapeutic communication skills as well as setting LIP opportunities, programs or systems that provide safe arenas within which people can bring about their own healing. When nurses set up groups for teen-age incest survivors, women who miscarry or bone marrow donors, they :ire doing for clients what they would do for themselves, if at all possible. Recently, a group of maternal-child public health nurses from the Seattle-King County area shared some beautiful examples of psycho social doing for. They delineated levels of supportive assistance they perform on behalf of new mothers experiencing substance abuse problems. When mothers indicate :I dcsire to “get clean,” the nurses describe assessing how capable the woman is to act on her own behalf. If it is clear that the woman is in danger and that it took all the \bornan had within her to even voice a desire to “quit using.” the nurse might dial the substance abuse hot line for her dnd hand her the phone (being aware that while the woman herself must talk, she needed that extra boost to access help). If, on the other hand, the woman states she is ready to quit and would like to know where to begin, the nurse might assess whether to offer the woman a narrow range of choices (“Here are pamphlets on two treatments programs within your city. I will check back tomorrow to see which one you called.”); broad options (“Look in the yellow pages under “A” tor alcoholism. Call me Thursday morning and we can talk about your decisions.”); or simply a wide open response, such as
“How may I be of assistance to you?” In each case, the level of nurse directiveness is the result of balancing the nurse’s recognition that the woman must act on her own behalf with an understanding of the demands, constraints, and resources offered by the woman’s life and environment. Doing for in each of these public health nursing examples is a balancing act between doing for the \\oman what she would do for herself if she had the knowledge and/or resources to do so and facilitating the woman’s ultimate desire to realize life long sobriety.
Enabling
Ultimately nurse caring is about enabling others to practice self care. Enabling is defined “as facilitating the other’s passage through life transitions and unfamiliar events” ( I99 1).
Enabling includes: coaching, informing and explaining to the other; supporting the other and allowing herihim to have her1 his experience; assisting the other to focus in on important issues; helping herhim to generate alternatives; guiding her! him to think issues through; offering feedback; and validating the other’s reality. As with doing for, the goal of enabling is to assure the other’s long-term well-being.
Unfortunately, the term enabling has come to have a negative meaning in the popular vernacular of the mental health community. The term enabling often connotes a negative action in which the provider sets up or maintains a situation in which the other may sustain an unhealthy way of being. This popular use of the term enabling suggests that the provider may actually act as co-dependent to the other’s pathological choices. Whereas this was never the intention of Swanson’s labeling of this category, the term does, nonetheless, lcnd itself to offering a built-in warning to the potential pitfalls of caring. In many ways “enabling” highlights the two sides of the caring coin: one in which the self of both caregiver and recipient are enhanced by the care provider’s actions and the opposite in which the self of provider and recipient are diminished by the provider’s misdirected actions.
Any discussion of caring in nursing must begin and end with the awareness of where professional responsibilities lie (to self and other); what constitutes furtherance versus diminished (of self and other); how the boundaries of
personal and professional roles are delineated; :~nd when and
where to seek support for the demands of caring.
The ultimate goal ol’ nlll-sk. c:lr.ily! is 10 c~~ablc clients to
achieve well-being. ‘l’hc. ~po~ct~~ial lor \+c*ll-hcing rests on the
capacit~, to practicc scll-c:~r-il~i- IO tl~c l~~llest extent possible.
As Orem (1980) :~ntl I lc:lltlcrson (I900) have suggested,
sometimes enabling in\,ol L.~.; substitutive care (doing for the other what they arc uriahlc to do lor themselves)-but doing no more than is nccc.ss:try to conspire the client’s energy or preserve the client’s dignity. At other times enabling involves creating an environment in which self-healing can occur (similar to Nightingale’s [I8591 notions of providing an environment in which the body’s inherent healing tendencies can operate). Sometimes it is the client’s internal environment (it., self concept, knowledge or skills level) that is altered in order to enable healing; at other times it is the external environment that is manipulated (i.e., provision of safety devices, removal of physical, social or emotional threats or obstacles). No matter what form the enabling intervention might take, it gains the title “enabling” by virtue of its intended function: to facilitate the other’s passage through difficult events and life transitions.
Conclusion
My dual purpose has been to justify the claim that “Nursing
is informed caring for the well-being of others” and to further
explicate an empirically derived theory of caring.
This theory delineates five overlapping processes that are
best discussed as dimensions of one over-arching phenomenon:
caring. Mutual exclusivity amongst the processes does not
exist and, in fact, their relationship to each other may be
hierarchical. The proposed structure for the theory depicts
caring as grounded in maintenance of a basic belief in persons,
anchored by knowing the other’s reality, conveyed through
being with, and enacted through doing for and enabling.
When time is taken to observe and interpret nurses’ actions,
it becomes clear that nursing practice is the result of blended
understandings of the empirical, aesthetic, ethical and intuitive
aspects of a given clinical situation and a nexus of maintaining
belief in, knowing, being with, doing for and enabling the
other. Several examples were offered that illustrate that nursc
caring frequently consists of subtle, yet powerful. practices
~hich are ofien virtually undisclosed to the casual observer,
but are essential to the well-being of its recipient. R:
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for practice, research, and education. New York: Macmillan.
Heron, E. (1987). Intensive care. New York: Ivy Books.
Orem, D.E. (1980). Nursing: Concepts of practice. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Klausner, S.Z. (1971). On man in his environment. San Francisco: JosseyBass.
Kwsl, M. (1989). Midwife and other poems on caring. New York: National
League for Nursing.
Nightingale, F. (1859). Notes on nursing: What it is and what it is not.
London: Harrison and Sons.
Reverby, S.M. (1987). Ordered to care. New York: Cambridge IJniversity
Press.
Schultz, P. (1987). When client means more than one: Extending the
foundational concept of person. Advances in Nursing Science, 10(1), 7 1 –
‘ 86.
Smith, J.A. (1981). The idea of health: A philosophical inquiry. Advances in
Nursing Science, 3(3), 43-50.
Swanson, K.M. (1991). Empirical development of a middle range theory of
caring. Nursing Research, 40, 161-166.
Swanson, K.M. (1990). Providing care in the NICU: Sometimes an act of love.
Advances in Nursing Science, 13(1), 60-73.
Swanson-Kauffman, K.M. (1986). Caring in the instance of unexpected early
pregnancy loss. Topics in Clinical Nursing, 8(2), 37-46.
Travelbee, J. (1971). Interpersonal aspects of nursing. Philadelphia: F.A.
Davis.
Watson, J. (1987). Nursing on the caring edge: Metaphorical vignettes.
Advances in Nursing Science. 10(1), 10-18.
Watson, J. (1985). Nursing: Human science and human care. Norwalk. CT:
Appleton-Century-Crofts.
Zcmekh, J.V. (1991). A family care giving model for public health nursing.
Nursing Outlook, 39: 213-217.
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Volume 25, Number 4 LZ’inler 1 q9; —– — -. –Critique Of Kristen Swanson’s Theory Of Caring Assignment.

 

 

Nurses are best known for being natural caregivers and Swanson’s Theory of Caring focuses on teaching and healing during pregnancy. Her theory gives insight on how families and healthcare providers deal with miscarriages and the healing process that is necessary to provide closure. When entering the field of Labor and Delivery, I was unaware that I would have to deal with women who have miscarriages and stillborn births. I was very intimidated and nervous when I had to do the actual delivery of a fetal demise, but now I feel very comfortable with this process because I am able to provide these patients with support in their time of need. Swanson’s Theory incorporates adaptive methods that not only help the family through the healing process, but teaches the nurse methods to help the family emotionally and physically. Critique Of Kristen Swanson’s Theory Of Caring Assignment.
The human caring theory is a grand theory that was developed by Watson in the 1970’s, then in 1991, Swanson proposed her caring theory which is a middle range theory consisting of five caring processes (Chen & Chou, 2010). Swanson’s five caring processes include knowing, which is striving to understand an event. Being with, which is being emotionally present. Doing for, this is where you do for the patient as they would do for themselves if they were able. Enabling, facilitating the patient through life transitions which are unfamiliar to them. Lastly, maintaining belief, sustaining faith helps patients get through the process (Polit & Beck, 2004).
In my clinical practice, I incorporate all five of Swanson’s caring processes. When I have a patient who has just gone through a miscarriage I provide empathy and strive to understand her grief, I give the family space and time, and I listen when they are ready to talk. I show my patient that I am emotionally connected by touching her on her arm or hand and letting her know how deeply sorry I am for her loss and that I can’t imagine what she is going through at this fragile time. I do for my patient what they would normally do for themselves, by providing privacy, peri-care, nutrition, and comfort. Critique Of Kristen Swanson’s Theory Of Caring Assignment.I help my patient through this unfamiliar event by placing a leaflet on her door so other healthcare workers know that a fetal demise has occurred. I also create a keepsake box that includes a book that the family can write their feelings in. I provide my patients with literature on the healing process, funeral homes for the infant, and support groups that they can attend or websites that they can refer to. Most importantly, I attempt to provide closure by encouraging them to hold the baby. If these patients are able to get closure they will have hope and be able to face a future with meaning.

References
Chen, S., & Chou, F. (2010). A comparison of the caring theories of Watson and Swanson [Chinese]. Journal Of Nursing, 57(3), 86-92.
Polit, D. and Beck, C.T. (2004). Nursing research: Principles and methods. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Tiffany Maxton received her BSN from Broward College. She is a Labor & Delivery nurse working in a variety of roles including: specializing in high risk/complicated pregnancies, circulating in operating room, triage, antepartum, recovery room, and assisting with fetal demises.
When on the Labor & Delivery unit, Tiffany observed the health care profession which often overlooked the need to show empathy, resources, and compassion to families experiencing a fetal demise. She has a strong urge to provide critical nursing care and strives to show compassion not only to patients delivering a baby, but to those experiencing a loss. She seeks to gain a connection with her patients by listening, understanding, and anticipating their needs. Critique Of Kristen Swanson’s Theory Of Caring Assignment.

N ursing is informed caring for the well-being of others.
As Carper ( 1978) has noted, nurse caring is informed
by empirical knowledge from nursing and the related
sciences, as well as ethical, personal and aesthetic
knowledge derived from the humanities, clinical
experience and personal and societal values and expectations.
Assumptions Underlying Caring
Persons/Clients

Watson (1985) proposed that how nurses view persons and
define personhood sets the stage for who the clients of nursing
are, and what constitutes the practices, environments and goals
of nursing care. Persons are unique beings who are in the
midst of becoming and whose wholeness is made manifest in
thoughts, feelings and behaviors. The experienced life of each
person is influenced by a genetic heritage, spiritual endowment
and the capacity to exercise free will. Persons in their wholeness
are not stagnant; rather, as Travelbee (1971) has noted, they
are becoming, growing, self-reflecting and seeking to connect
with others. Persons both mold and are molded by the
environment in which they exist. Critique Of Kristen Swanson’s Theory Of Caring Assignment.The genetic heritage serves
as a blueprint for each person’s unique human characteristics.
The spiritual endowment connects each being to an eternal
and universal source of goodness, mystery, life, creativity and
serenity. The spiritual endowment may be a soul, higher power1
Holy Spirit. positive energy, or, simply grace. Free will equates
with choice and the capacity to decide how to act when
confronted with a range of possibilities. While acknowledging
free will does mandate that nurses honor individuality, it may
also delude us into believing that the “range of possibilities”
are equally available, acceptable and desirable to all persons.
Practice based on such parochial egocentric assumptions have
historically lead health care providers to label wrongfully
clients as irresponsible and non-compliant, set up health care
delivery systems that are convenient to providers versus
accessible to consumers and sacrifice client centered care at
the altars of technology, economics and provider egos.
Schultz (1987) has identified that the “other” whose
personhood nurses attend to may be individuals or aggregates
(i.e., families, groups or societies). Most often, the “other”
will be a specified individual or aggregate, however, it may
also be a generalized other. For example, the generalized other
may be future generations or social issues such as freedom of
speech, human rights or access to health care. One last
additional class of otherlpersonior client to whom nurses attend
is actually an awkward use of the word other and refers to
! Kristen M. Swanson, RN, PhD, FAAN, Psi-At-L,lrg~, is Associate Professor
i of Parent ~nd Child Nursing at the Univrrs~ty of Washington. This ,jrt~cle
is based on insights derived irom roc~nwling women in the, Mi\carri.~ge
Caring Project, funded by the National Center ior Nu~sing Rezearch iR29
NR01899). Special thanks to Carol Lc,ppa, RN, PhD, Katherine Klaich.
KN, PhC, md Suzmned Sikma, EN, PhC rl the ‘vli~arriage Ciring
1 Project. Correspondence to University of Wa\hington, P,jrent and Child
1 Nursing SC-74, Seattlt!, WA 981 95. I Accepted for publication May 11, 1993.
352 – — IMAGE: journal oi Nurs~ng Scholarship
-A — lu~~r~,~?. ,,L l~l~~,~?~!i ‘ .,-,I?.’ 1.. ll,~. LVs~ Yen;, i>: Otll..,
care of self. Self-as-other refers to the well-being of each
nurses’ self and herlhis nursing and the well-being of all nurses
and their nursing. Critique Of Kristen Swanson’s Theory Of Caring Assignment.
Environment
Environment is defined situation ally. For nursing, it is any
context that influences or is influenced by the designated client.
Realms of influence are multiple, including the cultural,
political, economic, social, biophysical, psychological and
spiritual realms. When examining the influence of
environments on persons, it is helpful to consider the demands,
constraints and resources brought to the situation by the
participant(s) and the surrounding environment (Klausner,
197 1). What is considered client in some situations, may serve
as context or environment in other circumstances. For example,
in some nursing care situations the community may be the
client (i.e., nurses acting politically about the need for safe
play areas for inner-city children), at other times it may be the
environment (i.e., nurse assessment of how the school system
accommodates the needs of a specific child with a chronic
health condition.) For heuristic purposes the lens on
environmentldesignated client may actually be further specified
to the intra-individual level, wherein the “client” may be at
the cellular level and the environment may be the organs,
tissues or body of which the cell is a component.
Health/Well-being
Smith (1981) has delineated four views of health that include
health as: absence of illness; ability to perform one’s roles;
capacity to adapt; and as the pursuit of eudemonistic wellbeing. Nurses focus on how clients are living with whatever
illness or wellness condition they may be in. As nurses our
focus is not so much on disease amelioration, per se, as it is
on assisting clients to attain, maintain or regain the optimal
level of living or well-being they choose given their personal
and environmental demands, constraints and resources. Well being is living in such a state that one feels integrated and
engaged with living and dying. Critique Of Kristen Swanson’s Theory Of Caring Assignment.When nurses focus on health
as well-being, our care must take into account what it means
to be whole persons who are becoming, growing, self-reflecting
and seeking to connect with others.
To experience well-being is to live the subjective, meaningfilled, experience of wholeness. Wholeness involves a sense
of integration and becoming wherein all facets of being are
free to be expressed. Iacets of being include the many selves
that make us human: our spirituality. thoughts, feelings,
intelligence, creativity, relatedness, femininity, masculinity and
sexuality, to name just a few. Healing, the process of
reestablishing well-being, includes releasing inner pain,
establishing new meanings, restoring integration and emerging
into a sense of renewed wholeness.
Health, illness, deviance and pathology are socially defined
phenomena. As so defined, they are influenced by societal
values, political ideations, cultural norms and economic
conditions. Socially defined phenomena frequently wreak havoc
with the becoming and healing necessary to the realization of
well-being. For example, when a woman miscarries a desired
pregnancy her spiritual, maternal, feminine and sexual selves
are challenged to reestablish meanings that allow her to
experience a renewed sense of integration wherein her personal
biography includes the experience of having miscarried a
longed-for child. The seeking and becoming of well-being
requires a safe space for acquiring information, releasing the
pain of sadness and fear and expressing longing for the lost
loved one. When no such arena exists and the woman is given
socially defined dictums of what is normal (i.e., “At your age,
it was a blessing;” “It’s been two months, aren’t you over that
yet?”), her attempts at reestablishing well-being are thwarted.
Her many selves are left disintegrated and a feeling of
wholeness is replaced with one of inadequacy.
Nurses and Informed Caring
Nurses “diagnose and treat human responses to actual or
potential health problems” (American Nurses Association
Social Policy Statement, 1980). This description clarifies our
functional role to the publics we serve and underscores the
importance of nurses providing care to clients (individuals or
aggregates) who are currently dealing with or potentially facing
health deviations. But this language does not, capture the
essence of nursing’s values, history, expertise, knowledge,
universality and passion. Those whom we serve, how we serve
and why we continue to serve mandate an impassioned
integration of science, self, concern for humanity and caring.
Consummated in transactions among nursing and society and
each nurse and client are the profession’s commitments to
caring, the preservation of human dignity and enhancement of
well-being for all.

Informed nurse caring ranges from having novice to expert
capacity in practice. As Benner ( 1984) has noted, novice nurses
may care very deeply about the well-being of others, yet their
repertoire of caring therapeutics may be somewhat constricted.
For example, in order to proceed safely, novice nurses may
need to restrict their definition of other to “this patient’s
wound,” and their definition of well-being to “infection and
pain avoidance.” In contrast, the informed expert nurse would
view the other as an individual who is ultimately capable of
managing her own wound. The expert would modulate care
between what shelhe needs do to assure safety and what the
client must do to learn self-care. An expert nurse has a deeper
understanding of what constitutes well-being. a broader scope
of caring practices, and a wider view of who or what constitutes
“the other.” Critique Of Kristen Swanson’s Theory Of Caring Assignment.
The techniques and knowledge embedded in nurse caring
often are so subtle as to remain virtually undisclosed to the
uninformed observer. For example, when a newborn intense e
care unit nurse places a pacifier in a preterm infant’s mouth a
minute or two prior to diapering (for the compromised infant
an energy draining activity), unless one appreciates the
importance of non-nutritive sucking as a self-soothing, oxygen
conserving infant self-care behavior, the rationale for thc
nursing therapeutic of pacifier placement would be glanced
over. &.hen, in fact, the nursing act was based on aesthetics, a
sense of the whole of what works for this infant’$ overall
well-being; caring ethics, which raised the child from the
Volume 25. Number 4, LZ4nter 1993
moral status of object to one of a person whose self-soothing
abilities mattered; empirical evidence, which demonstrates
that non-nutritive sucking can lessen neuro behavioral
disorganization in the face of manipulative interventions; and
self-knowledge, or the nurses’ sense of how shethe would
wish to be treated were sheathe in the infant’s position.
‘4s Reverby (1987) has noted, just as nursing knowledge is
hidden in caring acts, the acts themselves are likewise
frequently hidden, undervalued and under rewarded. Some of
the reasons that nurses, their knowledge and their nursing are
so little appreciated and greatly concealed include: The fact
that nursing is frequently dismissed as “women’s work:”
carving tasks often are viewed as coming from the heart
and not from the brain; nursing is perceived by many as an
extension of medicine involving technical skills and a
willingness to obey; and our society values curing disease
and circumventing death over preventing health problems,
enhancing life quality and preserving personal dignity.
It takes a person schooled in “nursing appreciation” to fully
see the beauty in expert nursing practice. For some, the
appreciation comes from having been the recipient of expert
nursing. In those instances, the appreciative audience has a
non-indexical way of defining care and resorts to superlatives
(Great! Wonderful! So caring!) to capture the beauty of their
experience. For others, nurses, appreciation comes from formal
education and clinical practice wherein we know good nursing
when we see it; yet we, too, may be without words if good
nursing is what we routinely practice. In other words, good
nursing is the cultural norm and as such is difficult to describe
from within the culture. Disseminated nursing appreciation
must come from those (nurses and non-nurses) who
deliberately observe and in the words of their own disciplines
say back to nurses and their care recipients just what is
precious about nursing. Some of the products of “nursing
aficionados” have included Notes on Nursing, (Nightingale,
1859); Ordered to Care (Reverby, 1987); The Cancer Unit:
An Ethnography (Germain, 1979); Intensive Care (Heron,
1987); Midwife and Other Poems on Nursing (Krysl, 1989);
From Novice to Expert (Benner, 1984); A Family Caregiving
Model for Public Health Nursing (Zerwekh, 1991) and
Providing Care in the NICU: Sometimes an Act of Love
(Swanson, 1990). Not all of these “nursing appreciation
majors” are nurses, thus suggesting that nursing (informed
caring for the well-being of others) may be observed,
understood and interpreted by those who are willing to
thoughtfully observe and inductively describe nurses and their
practice. Critique Of Kristen Swanson’s Theory Of Caring Assignment.
Making the claim that nursing is informed caring for the
well-being of others does not mean that only nurses are caring,
and that all nursing practice situations may be characterized
as caring. It aIso does not suggest that nursing is the only
profession whose practice involkes informed caring. What it
does claim is that the therapeutic practices of nurscs are
grounded in knowledge of nursing, related sciences, and the
humanities, as well personal insight and experiential
understanding and that the goal of nurse caring is to enhance
the \bell-being of its recipients. It is the blend of knowledge/
information and the goal of practice that distinguishes nursing
from others whose practices includes caring.
The Structure of Caring
In 1991, 1 described a middle range theory of caring that
was empirically derived through phenomenological inquiry
in three perinatal nursing contexts. Citing corroborative nursing
and non-nursing literature, it was postulated that the theory
may have generalizability beyond the perinatal contexts studied
and beyond the practice of nurses only. Since publishing the
theory of caring, it has become apparent that a limitation is a
lack of structure to the theory as to how the five proposed
caring processes relate to each other. In this section, in addition
to reviewing the major components of the theory of caring, a
structure is proposed and justified for my theory of caring.
The five caring processes and sub-dimensions are not
suggested to be unique to nursing, they are proposed as
common features of caring relationships. Caring is defined as
“a nurturing way of relating to a valued other toward whom
one feels a personal sense of commitment and responsibility”
(1 99 1 ). Key words in this definition include: nurturing (growth
and health producing); way of relating (occurs in relationships);
to a valued other (the one cared-for matters); toward whom
one feels a personal (individualized and intimate); sense of
commitment (bond, pledge, or passion); and responsibility
(accountability and duty). Whereas this definition applies to
all caring relationships, relationships of central concern for
nursing include nurse to client, nurse to nurse, and nurse to
self. In keeping with the overall purpose of this manuscript
(to deal with the claim that nursing is informed caring for the
well-being of others) the remaining discussion of the caring
theory is restricted to its applicability to nursing.

Maintaining Belief
An orientation to caring begins with a fundamental belief
in persons and their capacity to make it through events and
transitions and face a future with meaning. As illustrated in
Figure 1, maintaining belief in persons is at the base of
caring, it is from this stance that nurses define what matters
and where to address care. Whether nurses articulate it, clients
are approached with a conviction that there is personal meaning
to be found in whatever health condition or developmental
challenge the person is facing.
Maintaining belief is a foundation to the practice of nurse
caring. It is sustaining faith in the capacity of others to get
through events or transitions and face a future with meaning
that initiates and sustains nurse caring. Such an orientation
fuels nursing and nurses to a commitment to serve humanity
(in general) and each client (in specific). On the societal
level, it is belief in the rights of all people to get through
events and face a meaningful future that motivates nurses to
political activism around such matters as access to care and
the need for health care reform. On the interpersonal level,
maintaining belief is evident in the case of a nurse who cares
for a couple laboring to birth their stillborn daughter. In this
example, the nurse’s care centers on monitoring the mother’s
– – – – – – – — -p— ~ ~- ~ ~ . ~-~ —- ~~ – ~ . – Critique Of Kristen Swanson’s Theory Of Caring Assignment.
The Structure of Caring
Therapeutic I the clinical condition (in actions I
(client (in specific) I and client (in specific
I
I I I
py!) being
Intended
outcome
Figure 1 : ‘The structure of caring as linked to the nurses’ philosophical attitude, informed understandings, message conveyed,
therapeutic actions and intended outcome.
physical and emotional safety while assuring the couple’s long term healing. The nurse sustains faith that the couple, with her
guidance, will safely and humanely get through the immediate
birth and death. Fundamentally, the nurse believes in the
family’s capacity to create both a dignified passage for their
child and a meaning-filled future for themselves: a future
wherein their daughter and her birth and death will have a
peaceful, permanent meaning in their family’s day to day
existence.
Knowing
If maintaining belief is at the base of nurse caring, knowing
is the anchor that moors the beliefs of nurses l nursing to the
lived realities of those served. Knowing is striving to understand
events as they have meaning in the life of the other. Knowing
translates the idealism of belief maintenance into the realism
of the human condition. It involves avoiding assumptions.
centering on the one(s) cared for, thoroughly assessing all
aspects of the client’s condition and reality, and ultimately
engaging the self or personhood of the nurse and client in a
caring transaction. In effect, nurse knowing sets the potential
for the nursing therapeutics of being with, doing for and
enabling to be perceived as relevant and, ultimately, effective
in promoting client well-being.
The efficiency and efficacy of knowing as a caring therapeutic
is enhanced by empirical. ethical and aesthetic knowledge of
the range of responses humans have to actual and potential
health problems. Formal nursing education that includes content
on physical, cultural, spiritual, and emotional responses to
conditions of wellness and illness prepare nurses to throw a
wide net when casting for any one client’s lived reality.
Experience with clients with similar conditions, or a given
client under differing conditions, hones a nurse’s capacity to
know the meaning of an event in a given client’s life. A
nurse’s knowledge of self sets the stage for how willing a
nurse is to truly know another’s realit) and just how capable
sheihe is to contain herlhis needs and center on the client’s
lived realit!,. On a disciplinary level, nurses’ clarity on our
Volume 25. Number 4, W~ntrr lq93 ——
own perspectives and contributions, sets the agenda for nursing
scholarship and promotes the potential for truly knowing and
serving the health needs of society.
Being With
Being with, being emotionally present to other. is the caring category that conveys to clients that they and their experiences matter to the nurse. Emotional presence is a way of sharing in the meanings, feelings and lived experience of the one-cared
for. Being with assures clients that their reality is appreciated and that the nurse is ready and willing to be there for them.
Being there includes not just the side-by-side physical presence but also the clearly conveyed message of availability and ability to endure with the other. For inpatient nursing, the call bell that is accessible and readily responded to is a type of being there. For nurses who work in community or outpatient settings there are several methods of conveying “you are not alone, what happens to you matters and that we are here for you.”
Some of these methods include sharing clinic phone numbers and permission to call anytime, giving nurse pager instructions and assurance of immediate access, and even arranging for electronic mail computer linkages between rural home-bound clients and urban health care facilities.
To be with another is to give time. authentic presence, attentive listening and contingent reflective responses. In many ways to he with another is to give simply of the self and to do so in such a way that the one cared for realizes the commitment, concern and personal attentiveness of the one caring. Being with ranges from offering a joyful cheer at birth, to crying with the bereaved, to sharing the frustration of a family caregiver, to canying a 23-hour beeper so that the adolescent with leukemia knows that his nurse is just a phone call awa). Critique Of Kristen Swanson’s Theory Of Caring Assignment.
When being with nurses do so, with a sense of responsibility toward both the client and self, remaining ever aware of who is provider and who is recipient in any given clinical situation
There is a fine line between sharing the other’s reality and taking on that reality as your own. When such boundaries are crossed, painful outcomes are bound to ensue. Failure to remain  responsible to client and self results in nursing care that burdens clients, iessens the nurse’s well-being and ultimately diminishes the nurse’s personal and professional relationships and role performance. Given that nurses work in settings where the best and worst life has to offer can be commonplace, nurse ~administrators must set up organizations that take into account the peed to care for and promote caring among nurses. In order to care without burdening themselves, their clients or their Families, nurses must get their work related needs met through self-care and communities of caring in which the interpersonal work ethic is to be there for each other.
Doing For
Virginia Henderson captured the essence of doing for in her often quoted definition of nursing:
The unique function of the nurse is to assist the individual,
sick or well. in the performance of those activities contributing to health or its recovery (or to peaceful death) that he would perform unaided if he had the necessary strength, will, or knowledge. And to do this in such a way as to help him gain independence as rapidly as possible.
(Hcndcrson, 1966).
Doing Ibr, simply put, is doing for the other what they would do for themselves if it were at all possible. Doing for involves actions on the part of the nurse that are performed on behalf of the client’s long term well-being. There is an efficacious to these actions, wherein the nurse acts
ultimately to preserve the other’s wholeness. Short-sighted, misplaced efficiency occurs when the actions are solely toward immediate preservation of the caregiver’s time, energy or finances. Classic health care examples of not doing for include administering prematurely an episiotomy on behalf of the obstetrical care provider’s over-booked schedule, quickly bathing and dressing an elderly client who is perfectly capable of slowly dressing herself or hastily hauling infants off to the newborn nursery versus leaving them in proximity to their mother’s loving gaze, nurturing milk and bodily warmth.
Doing for includes comforting the other, anticipating their needs, performing competently and skillfully, protecting the other from undo harm and ultimately preserving the dignity of the one done for. Although it may appear that doing for actions are primarily psycho motor nursing ministrations, this is not
always the case.
In the psycho social realm of care, doing for generally involves not so much physical ministrations, per se, as the employment of interpersonal therapeutic communication skills as well as setting LIP opportunities, programs or systems that provide safe arenas within which people can bring about their own healing. When nurses set up groups for teen-age incest survivors, women who miscarry or bone marrow donors, they :ire doing for clients what they would do for themselves, if at all possible. Recently, a group of maternal-child public health nurses from the Seattle-King County area shared some beautiful examples of psycho social doing for. They delineated levels of supportive assistance they perform on behalf of new mothers experiencing substance abuse problems. When mothers indicate :I dcsire to “get clean,” the nurses describe assessing how capable the woman is to act on her own behalf. If it is clear that the woman is in danger and that it took all the \bornan had within her to even voice a desire to “quit using.” the nurse might dial the substance abuse hot line for her dnd hand her the phone (being aware that while the woman herself must talk, she needed that extra boost to access help). If, on the other hand, the woman states she is ready to quit and would like to know where to begin, the nurse might assess whether to offer the woman a narrow range of choices (“Here are pamphlets on two treatments programs within your city. I will check back tomorrow to see which one you called.”); broad options (“Look in the yellow pages under “A” tor alcoholism. Call me Thursday morning and we can talk about your decisions.”); or simply a wide open response, such as
“How may I be of assistance to you?” In each case, the level of nurse directiveness is the result of balancing the nurse’s recognition that the woman must act on her own behalf with an understanding of the demands, constraints, and resources offered by the woman’s life and environment. Doing for in each of these public health nursing examples is a balancing act between doing for the \\oman what she would do for herself if she had the knowledge and/or resources to do so and facilitating the woman’s ultimate desire to realize life long sobriety.
Enabling
Ultimately nurse caring is about enabling others to practice self care. Enabling is defined “as facilitating the other’s passage through life transitions and unfamiliar events” ( I99 1).
Enabling includes: coaching, informing and explaining to the other; supporting the other and allowing herihim to have her1 his experience; assisting the other to focus in on important issues; helping herhim to generate alternatives; guiding her! him to think issues through; offering feedback; and validating the other’s reality. As with doing for, the goal of enabling is to assure the other’s long-term well-being.
Unfortunately, the term enabling has come to have a negative meaning in the popular vernacular of the mental health community. The term enabling often connotes a negative action in which the provider sets up or maintains a situation in which the other may sustain an unhealthy way of being. This popular use of the term enabling suggests that the provider may actually act as co-dependent to the other’s pathological choices. Whereas this was never the intention of Swanson’s labeling of this category, the term does, nonetheless, lcnd itself to offering a built-in warning to the potential pitfalls of caring. In many ways “enabling” highlights the two sides of the caring coin: one in which the self of both caregiver and recipient are enhanced by the care provider’s actions and the opposite in which the self of provider and recipient are diminished by the provider’s misdirected actions.
Any discussion of caring in nursing must begin and end with the awareness of where professional responsibilities lie (to self and other); what constitutes furtherance versus diminished (of self and other); how the boundaries of
personal and professional roles are delineated; :~nd when and
where to seek support for the demands of caring.
The ultimate goal ol’ nlll-sk. c:lr.ily! is 10 c~~ablc clients to
achieve well-being. ‘l’hc. ~po~ct~~ial lor \+c*ll-hcing rests on the
capacit~, to practicc scll-c:~r-il~i- IO tl~c l~~llest extent possible.
As Orem (1980) :~ntl I lc:lltlcrson (I900) have suggested,
sometimes enabling in\,ol L.~.; substitutive care (doing for the other what they arc uriahlc to do lor themselves)-but doing no more than is nccc.ss:try to conspire the client’s energy or preserve the client’s dignity. At other times enabling involves creating an environment in which self-healing can occur (similar to Nightingale’s [I8591 notions of providing an environment in which the body’s inherent healing tendencies can operate). Sometimes it is the client’s internal environment (it., self concept, knowledge or skills level) that is altered in order to enable healing; at other times it is the external environment that is manipulated (i.e., provision of safety devices, removal of physical, social or emotional threats or obstacles). No matter what form the enabling intervention might take, it gains the title “enabling” by virtue of its intended function: to facilitate the other’s passage through difficult events and life transitions.
Conclusion
My dual purpose has been to justify the claim that “Nursing
is informed caring for the well-being of others” and to further
explicate an empirically derived theory of caring.
This theory delineates five overlapping processes that are
best discussed as dimensions of one over-arching phenomenon:
caring. Mutual exclusivity amongst the processes does not
exist and, in fact, their relationship to each other may be
hierarchical. The proposed structure for the theory depicts
caring as grounded in maintenance of a basic belief in persons,
anchored by knowing the other’s reality, conveyed through
being with, and enacted through doing for and enabling.
When time is taken to observe and interpret nurses’ actions,
it becomes clear that nursing practice is the result of blended
understandings of the empirical, aesthetic, ethical and intuitive
aspects of a given clinical situation and a nexus of maintaining
belief in, knowing, being with, doing for and enabling the
other. Several examples were offered that illustrate that nursc
caring frequently consists of subtle, yet powerful. practices
~hich are ofien virtually undisclosed to the casual observer,
but are essential to the well-being of its recipient. R:
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