Thursday, 26 June 2008

Nursing philosophy Apr 2008, vol. 9, no. 2,

A reply to 'Spirituality and nursing: a reductionist approach' by John Paley.
p. 131-7; discussion 138-40

Palliative care for people with Alzheimer's disease.
p. 110-20
Mahon-Margaret-M, Sorrell-Jeanne-M.
The task of aligning the philosophical and clinical perspectives on ethics is a challenging one. Clinical practice informs philosophy, not merely by supplying cases, but through shaping and testing philosophical concepts in the reality of the clinical world. In this paper we explore several aspects of the relationship between the philosophical and the clinical within a framework of palliative care for people living with Alzheimer's disease. We suggest that health professionals have a moral obligation to question previous assumptions concerning the quality of life among people with Alzheimer's, and to address the question: does the concept of palliative care properly embrace people with severe dementia? We propose an ethic of palliative care for people with Alzheimer's that is based, not on the traditionally understood principle of autonomy, but on the need to listen to those living with the disease, acknowledging their profound loss of cognitive abilities, with a focus on preventing and relieving suffering, and improving the individual's quality of life.

A conversation on diverse perspectives of spirituality in nursing literature.
p. 98-109
Spirituality has long been considered a dimension of holistic palliative care. However, conceptualizations of spirituality are in transition in the nursing literature. No longer rooted within religion, spirituality is increasingly being defined by the universal search for meaning, connectedness, energy, and transcendence. To be human is to be spiritual. Some have argued that the concept of spirituality in the nursing literature has become so generic that it is no longer meaningful. A conceptualization that attempts to be all- encompassing of what it means to live a human life has a tendency to render invisible the differences that make life meaningful. For palliative patients in particular, a generic approach may obscure and relativize the important values and beliefs that inform the critical questions that many patients grapple with at end of life. A different approach to conceptualizing spirituality can be achieved through the use of typologies. Rather than obscuring difference, categories are constructed to illuminate how spirituality is understood within a diverse society and how those understandings might influence patient- provider relationships. What follows in this article is a dialogue illustrating one typology of spirituality constructed from a review of selected nursing literature. The hypothetical narrator and three participants, representing the positions of theism, monism, and humanism, discuss their understandings of spirituality and religion, and how those understandings influence the intersections between nursing ontology, epistemology, and spiritual care.

The dying person: an existential being until the end of life.
p. 89-97
Lavoie-Mireille, Blondeau-Danielle, De-Koninck-Thomas.
This article explores the experience of death from the perspective of existential philosophy, for the purpose of finding ways to humanize end-of-life nursing care. A person in his or her final days is seen by the caregiver as a being seeking the continual creation of his human becoming, from the experience of sickness to death. From the moment the torment of suffering begins, a person needs a presence of humanistic professionalism that embraces the values of the nursing profession.

Human nature: a foundation for palliative care.
p. 77-88
The Aristotelian-Thomist philosopher holds that human intellectual knowledge is possible because of the order in the world and natural human capacities. It is the position of this paper that there is a shared human form or nature that unites all humanity as members of the same kind. Moral treatment is due to every human being because they are human, and is not based upon expression of abilities. Humans have substantial dynamic existence in the world, an existence which overflows in expressive relationships. As both patient and health professional are human, human nature forms the natural foundation of health care. This paper looks towards human nature for moral guidance. The therapeutic relationship is seen as a part of the interpersonal moral space formed by human relationality, which tends towards community - in this case, the healthcare system. The therapeutic relationship is also a source of moral responsibility, as illness makes the patient vulnerable, while knowledge and nursing capacities generate in the nurse a duty to care. Nursing theory serves to connect philosophical reflection and nursing practice. Imogene King's conceptual system and theory of Goal Attainment is the theory that follows from the perspective of human person being presented. This synthesis of philosophy and theory is developed with the goal of shedding light on healthcare decisions in palliative care. The article concludes with the acknowledgement that the complexity of contextualized individual decisions requires the insight and discipline of the moral practitioner, and provides some thoughts on how education, development, and refinement transform an individual into a nurse.

Philosophy and palliative care.
p. 75-6
Editorial, Introductory-Journal-Article.

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