Prevention of Unethical Actions in Nursing Homes

Nursing Ethics 15 (4):536-548 (2008)


Ethical problems regularly arise during daily care in nursing homes. These include violation of patients' right to autonomy and to be treated with respect. The aim of this study was to investigate how caregivers emphasize daily dialogue and mutual reflection to reach moral alternatives in daily care. The data were collected by participant observation and interviews with seven caregivers in a Norwegian nursing home. A number of ethical problems linked to 10 patients were disclosed. Moral problems were revealed as the caregivers acted in ways that they knew were against patients' interest. We used a theoretical interpretation according to Habermas' discourse ethics on the importance of dialogue when deciding moral courses of action for patients. This theory has four basic requirements: communicative competence, equality, self-determination, and openness about motives

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