Linking the parts: an exemplar of philosophical and practical issues in holistic nursing


Dr A Cribb, Centre for Educational Studies, King's College London, Cornwall House Annex, Waterloo Road, London SE1 8TX, England


This paper offers an analysis of some of the challenges of holism, particularly the challenges relating to co-operation and role indeterminacy It uses the work of one group of nurses (specialist paediatric oncology nurses) to exemplify these issues, and it draws upon some empirical research into their work These nurses work to provide a link between hospital and home for families with children with cancer, but it is suggested that the fundamental issues they face, (a) in linking the parts of the system, and (b) in linking the parts of care as it is experienced, are shared by anyone who subscribes to holistic nursing Issue (a) raises questions of professional boundary crossing, and calls upon diplomatic and micro-political skills Issue (b) raises questions about the boundaries of health care, and calls upon skills of‘translation’and emotional labour The value of holism is not questioned but the paper illustrates how aiming for holistic care inevitably opens up philosophical and practical problems and concerns