Scand J Caring Sci; 2010; 24; 312–320
Dependency in autonomous caring – night nurses’ working conditions for caring in nursing
Few research studies have focused on nurses’ working conditions for caring provided at night, and these studies have mainly described nurses’ work in hospital settings, not in a municipal, social-care context. In Swedish municipal care, nurses have responsibility for hundreds of older people in need of care. This working condition compromises caring encounters; instead the nurses’ caring is mainly mediated through care staff (or relatives). In considering that caring based on caring encounters is fundamental to ethical nursing practice questions leads to the aim: to explore Swedish municipal night nurses’ experiences of their working conditions for caring in nursing. All municipal night-duty nurses (n = 7) in a medium-sized community in Sweden participated in interviews, while six of them also wrote diaries. Thematic content analysis has been used in analysing the data. The findings revealed that the nurses experienced their working conditions for caring in nursing in the themes of Dependency in the Organisation and Other Staff, Vocational Responsibility, Deficiency in Conditions for Caring and Autonomous Caring. The findings illustrate privileged, as well as, poor working conditions for caring in nursing. The nurses’ role as consultants emerge as their main function. The consultant function implies that nurses do not participate in ordinary bed-side caring, which makes it easier for them to find time for caring in situations that arise when nurses’ skills, expertise and authority are called upon. Conversely the consultancy function entails short-term solution of complex caring problems, which can signify deficient caring due to prevailing working conditions. The findings also point to nurses’ possible problems in fulfilling their own and vocational demands for ethics in the practice of caring in nursing related to existing working conditions.