The myriad of changes witnessed in the health care delivery all over the world has increased Nurses` workload significantly. Nurses must now handle patients with augmented perspicacity and intricacy in relation to their health care condition. In the face of the many hardships that nurses` in modern health care facilities are encountering, they should always look for means to ensure thy safeguard their caring practice. Jean Watson`s caring theory is an important tool in that course. Jean Watson is one of the nursing theorists behind the Caring theory. Watson exemplifies values that an ideal nurse should possess that will go along the way in ensuring that they not only offer care, and compassion to the patients abut also find meaning in their work (Hickman, 2006). He illustrates ways in which nurses can realize their potential by applying caring values where humanity values are constantly undergoing changes. These values are paramount for the nurses` own health care and are primary elements that redefine the nursing career, from just being like any other job but a rewarding profession. This paper will explore the essential elements of Jean`s Caring theory and the applicability of lessons and values proposed as the core pillars of an ideal nurse.
Overview of Watson`s Caring Theory
Dr Watson is a nursing theorist born in America and her work is studied in many parts of the globe. Watson earned a degree in nursing and psychology from the University of Colorado before she pursued a master`s degree in psychiatric-mental and psychology and a PhD. D in educational psychology and counselling in the same University. She is the founder of Center for Human Caring in Colorado. Watson is also a fellow in the America academy for Nursing and has received various honours both at home and abroad. Watson has written many books explaining about the theory of human caring (Cara, 2013). The following are the primary elements of the Caring theory as proposed by Jean Watson:
:: Carative elements
:: Transpersonal caring relationship
:: Caring moment
Watson later introduced the clinical caritas which served to take place of the carative factors (Cara, 2013). Caritas in this respect refers to giving unique compassion and attention. The carative factors were integrated to form the clinical caritas which encompasses the following processes:
:: Cultivating and maintain a helping and trusting caring relationship
:: Developing individual`s spiritual practices and self, past the ego self and dealing with other with love and sensitivity
:: Put into practice the loving kindness and composure in healthcare.
:: Facilitating and creating an environment for development of strong belief system.
:: Supporting expression of both negative and positive sentiments.
:: Building a conducive environment for the healing process
:: Practice genuine teaching and learning that concentrates to unity of being
:: Helping with primary needs with the intent of ensuring human care
:: Tending to both the embodied spirit and evolving spiritual emergence (Cara, 2013)
Engaging in artistry of caring practices through deriving ways of making the best use of self (Hills &Watson, 2011).
Transpersonal Caring Relationship
Watson defines transpersonal caring relationship as a form of a special relationship in the delivery of human care and that is pegged on the nurses` moral fabric and dedication to safeguarding and promotes human respect and dignity. Watson explains that the relationship that a nurse seeks to build with the patient is illustrative of the core mission of nursing. As such a nurse caring commitment and consciousness is exemplified by the nature of relationship built with the patient. Watson further explains that the relationship should be structured way that serves to uphold human dignity and should not at any way reduce an individual to the moral status of an object. Watson proposes that the connection between the nurse and the patient and the show of compassion and connection has the potent of healing the patient (Cara, 2013).
Watson highlights that, this form of relation goes past the objective evaluation of the patient`s medical conditions. It shows care and concern towards patients subjective and beliefs in relation to their medical situation. Watson argues that the caring consciousness of a nurse is an important aspect to be in a position to understand and relate with the patient`s tribulations and outlook. The input of both care giver and the recipient of care are crucial for the creation of a healthy relationship. The individuals caring, the caregiver and the one being cared for, the patient will be connected through this special relationship, in mutual hunt for completeness and possibly in spiritual view of distress (Hills &Watson, 2011). Watson defines the term transpersonal as transcending beyond the boundary of one`s ego, a phenomenon that permit an individual to attain deeper spiritual connection in uphold patients relieve and healing. The main objective of transpersonal caring relationship is to safeguard, uphold and maintain the patient`s decorum, unity and inner harmony.
Watson describes a caring moment as space and time when a patient and nurse converge in a way that an environment for human caring is generated. Both, the nurse and the patient are important in this occasion since their meeting is what call for the creation of healing setting. Each of these parties with their unique features has the opportunity to interact. A unique human feature refer to an individual`s point of reference, and encompasses aspects such as, past experiences, life goals, body feelings, environmental concerns, thoughts, expectations and individuals perceptions and views that are pegged on their past experiences, their current situation and notions about the future (Cara, 2013).
Watson further suggests that the nurse as the caregiver should be alert of their self-consciousness and personal presence at the occasion (caring moment) with the recipient of the care (patient). Watson notes that this moment is crucial since it will form part of their life history and as such decisions and choices made have immense implications (Watson, 1999). Watson explains that the caring occasion can only be transpersonal if it provides for the opportunity for the spirit of both the caregiver and the recipient of care to merge and has the potent of develop human capacity.
Viewing the Person through Watson`s Caring Lens
Watson believes in the existence of human being in three spheres, body, spirit and mind which are greatly controlled by individual perception of self. The Self (body, mind and spirit) is special in their own manner and are free and open to make choices. Therefore, it means that nurses should consider the various elements that together constitute the life of a person. The environmental conditions of the patient should always be reviewed before any assessment is made. Environment in this respect entails factors such as, family, society, culture and neighbourhood (Cara, 2013). The relationship between the patient and their environment is important since it underscores the existing connection.
Watson proposes that, nurses should collect data on the nature and condition of the patients` family, resources available in the community, information about friends and colleagues and generally the relationship between the patient and their environment. Watson emphasizes that the nature of the environment is crucial in the healing process of the patient. The healing space and conditions offered to the patient should be conducive to allow the patient to increase their awareness and consciousness and facilitate the completeness of both body and spirit (Kim & Kollak, 2006). She recognizes the essence of making the patient`s room as peaceful as possible, calm and as sacred as can be. Watson also recognizes the importance of the unity between mind, body and spirit. When collecting data, it becomes increasingly important for nurses to consider all aspect of the patients and not their body only. Individuals mind refer to their feelings, knowledge, emotions and intelligence. Based on Watson proposition the mind is the gateway to the spirit and the body. The spirit refers to the patient`s spiritual self (inner self). The inner self of the patient is the one that enables them to rise above the here and now simultaneous with past. Spirituality is of utmost relevance in the nursing profession, since the care to the soul shapes the speed at which the body heals (Kim & Kollak, 2006).
Viewing Nursing through Watson`s Caring Lens
Jean Watson observes that, despite that fact that nursing is a health science it is also an art. Based on the precepts of Caring theory, artistry is part and parcel of the caring agenda for both patients and their families. Artistry enhances transpersonal healing modalities and encompasses aspects such as, assisting the patients to ease pain, anxiety and distress. Even if some of artistic touch may be incongruent with institutional policies, Watson notes that the importance in promoting well being and healing cannot be underestimated (Cara, 2013).
Watson recognizes that caring is the chief role of nurses and as such it can be perceived as the nurses` moral obligation of protecting human dignity by helping patients to find meaning in their suffering. According to Watson, caring is a unique means of being in relation with oneself, with patients and the outside environmental factors, and this form of relationship call for wiliness as well as commitment to care and help others. Nurses have the sole duty of innovating ways to connect and create a relationship with patients in a bid to promote healing. (Watson, 1999)
The key elements of Watson Caring theory have been explored, and their usefulness in the healthcare of patients discussed. Caring theory is made up of three key elements, transpersonal caring relationship, carative factors and caring moment. The three elements elaborate how nurses should preserve the dignity of human in the practice and acquire job satisfaction at the same time. Nursing can increase its current role, enduring to make a contribution in the modern day healthcare. Caring has been stated as the most important role of a nurse and creating an environment that allows the healing of body, mind and spirit an indispensable venture that all nurses should strive to achieve.
Cara, C. (2013). A pragmatic View of Jean Watson`s Caring Theory. Montreal: University of Montreal: Faculty of Nursing.
Hickman, J. S. (2006). Faith Community Nursing. Philadephia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
Kim, H. S. and Kollak, I. (2006). Nursing Theories: Conceptual & Philosophical Foundations. New York, NY: Springer Pub.
Watson, J. (1999). Nursing: Human Science and Human Care: a Theory of Nursing. New York: Sudbury, Mass.
Watson, J. and Hills, M. (2011). Creating a Caring Science Curriculum: an Emancipatory Pedagogy for Nursing. New York: Springer.