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Seniors' perceptions of respectful nursing care during admission to acute care psychiatric units Dawson, Thomas Peter


Seniors who have a mental illness are a particularly vulnerable population. Not only do they have to cope with the incapacities caused by their mental illness but may also suffer societal discrimination because of their age and being mentally ill. These two forms of discrimination are known as ageism and stigma of mental illness respectively. Both of these two phenomena devalue a person and create feelings of low self-worth. The opposite however, can be attributed to respect, which bestows value on the person. It is therefore, reasonable to speculate that respectful care may counter the negativities of discrimination and thus play an important part in promoting health in mentally ill seniors. This qualitative study explored whether seniors who were admitted to an acute psychiatric unit received respectful care from nurses and what the indicators of respectful care were for these seniors. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with five seniors who had experienced an admission on an acute psychiatric unit. Interpretative analysis was used to identify common themes in the participants' descriptions of respectful nursing care. The findings suggested that all five participants felt they received respectful nursing care; no incidents of disrespectful nursing care were identified by the participants. Four themes relating to respectful care emerged from the findings. The first three themes related to indicators of respectful care: courteousness, attentiveness to patients' needs and treating patients as people. These three themes appeared to acknowledge and sustain the participants' individuality. Participants felt that nurses displayed genuine interest in them as people while being attentive to their needs. A fourth theme, which appeared to be an antagonist to respect, was conceptualized as "too busy"; participants described how indicators of respect diminished during times when the nurses' workload appeared to increase. Participants did not blame nurses for the reduction of respectful care during these busy periods. Recommendations for nursing practice, education, policy and research are described in the final chapter.

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