Conflict of interest statement: No conflicts declared
‘BECAUSE WE SEE THEM NAKED' – NURSES’ EXPERIENCES IN CARING FOR HOSPITALIZED PATIENTS WITH DEMENTIA: CONSIDERING ARTIFICIAL NUTRITION OR HYDRATION (ANH)
Article first published online: 14 FEB 2011
© 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
Volume 26, Issue 6, pages 285–295, July 2012
How to Cite
BRYON, E., DIERCKX DE CASTERLÉ, B. and GASTMANS, C. (2012), ‘BECAUSE WE SEE THEM NAKED' – NURSES’ EXPERIENCES IN CARING FOR HOSPITALIZED PATIENTS WITH DEMENTIA: CONSIDERING ARTIFICIAL NUTRITION OR HYDRATION (ANH). Bioethics, 26: 285–295. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8519.2010.01875.x
- Issue published online: 12 JUN 2012
- Article first published online: 14 FEB 2011
- artificial nutrition and/or hydration;
- qualitative research;
The aim of this study was to explore and describe how Flemish nurses experience their involvement in the care of hospitalized patients with dementia, particularly in relation to artificial nutrition or hydration (ANH). We interviewed 21 hospital nurses who were carefully selected from nine hospitals in different regions of Flanders. ‘Being touched by the vulnerability of the demented patient’ was the central experience of the nurses, having great impact on them professionally as well as personally. This feeling can be described as encompassing the various stages of the care process: the nurses' initial meeting with the vulnerable patient; the intense decision-making process, during which the nurses experienced several intense emotions influenced by supporting or hindering contextual factors; and the final coping process, a time when nurses came to terms with this challenging experience. From our examination of this care process, it is obvious that nurses' involvement in ANH decision-making processes that concern patients with dementia is a difficult and ethically sensitive experience. On the one hand, the feeling of ‘being touched’ can imply strength, as it demonstrates that nurses are willing to provide good care. On the other hand, the feeling of ‘being touched’ can also imply weakness, as it makes nurses vulnerable to moral distress stemming from contextual influences. Therefore, nurses have to be supported as they carry out this ethically sensitive assignment. Practical implications are given.