Attributes of nurses that determine the quality of care for mentally handicapped people in an institution


Mr Victor Ming Ho Lau Flat 31 D Tower 5, Pierhead Garden Tuen Mun, N T, Hong Kong


This is an ethnographic study that examines, from the relatives' perspective, the attributes of nurses that are considered important in the caring process of mentally handicapped people in an institutional setting in Hong Kong Twelve interviews were carried out with a family member who had a relative living in a special unit for severely mentally handicapped people Empirical studies, mainly from the west, have shown that decisions to place a mentally handicapped family member in residential care is a complex process Family characteristics, the relatives' characteristics as well as the availability of support, have been found to influence decisions about out-of-home placement Once this decision has been made, a new caring relationship between nurse, family and relative needs to be established The final categories that emerged from the data show that families have expectations about the nurses' competence and comittment to the job and about their relationships with the client and the family Consequently quality is judged, not only by the way in which nurses work with the clients, but also by the way in which they work with the family Implications for practice and education of nurses working with mentally handicapped people and for nursing administration in Hong Kong are discussed