The Meaning of Vulnerability to Nurses Caring for Older People
Nursing ethics 2011 Jan; 18(1): 31-41
Research concerning work on caring for older people shows that care providers experience a variety of consuming emotions and stress. They can be said to be in a vulnerable position. It is not known, however, how the care providers themselves understand vulnerability. The aim of this study was to illuminate the meaning of vulnerability to care providers caring for older people. A qualitative interpretive approach was adopted. Data were collected through tape-recorded interviews with 16 female registered and practical nurses who were experienced in caring for older people. Qualitative analysis resulted in one core theme and six themes with subthemes. The core theme showed that, for the participating nurses, vulnerability essentially meant being human. The meanings of being human were illustrated by the six themes: having feelings; experiencing moral indignation; being harmed; having courage; protecting oneself; and maturing and developing. Analysis showed that vulnerability was a resource as well as a burden.
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