Jackson D & Raftos M. International Journal of Nursing Practice 1997; 3: 34–39
In unchartered waters: Confronting the culture of silence in a residential care institution
This paper describes a study grounded in feminism, which explored the experiences of three registered nurses who were employed in a residential care institution in which they believed the standard of care to be unacceptably poor. Ultimately, the nurses became ‘whistle blowers’. Data surrounding these events were gathered through serial encounters and analysed using feminist interpretive methods. Three distinct phases were revealed: (i) trepidation and optimizm; (ii) barriers and obstacles; and (iii) disillusionment and defeat. It was in this final phase that the whistle blowing occurred. For these women, whistle blowing was an intervention of last resort; a stressful and negative event that carried personal and professional cost. Issues pertaining to professional autonomy and patient advocacy are raised, together with concerns surrounding the appropriation by business people of the language and images of nursing, and the power of these people to negatively impact upon nursing practice.