The major concept of Watson’s theory of human caring revolves around transpersonal human caring. This concept of human caring may be analyzed on three perspectives and these are life, illness and health. In this context, human life entails the mental, spiritual and physical being. The illness does not necessarily mean disease but is any form of disharmony within a person or his/her soul and may be affecting the individual consciously or sub consciously. Health, under this concept is described as the well being or harmony of the three spheres of human being, that is the body, mind and soul. Based on this theory, the core aim of human caring entails a giving-receiving model in which the nurse and the patient interact and experience each other through the mental, physical or spiritual contacts or a combination of all three spheres. This means the ultimate purpose or goal of the nursing profession is to give the patient relative level of coordination or harmony within themselves so as to achieve self-healing and the ability to provide care to themselves based on the acquired knowledge (Watson, 2006).
The theory is based on several assumptions that describe nursing on a totally different platform from the conventional concept of providing treatment to the unhealthy. These assumptions state that the care offered by the nurses to the patient can only be successfully useful if the basis is interpersonal interaction. This means the nurse and the patient can freely interact and understand each other on a personal level. This creates a platform for nurse to offer all the help the patient requires to ensure he/she achieves internal harmony which is the recipe for enhanced self-healing. Another assumption is that the definition of an effective caring environment is one that gives room for the person to choose the most appropriate of actions that make them comfortable and allow them to achieve optimum personal satisfaction. The environment should also be supportive of the individual’s potential development (Basavanthappa, 2007).
The theory also assumes that the process of caring should encompass accepting the patient without basing the care only on the condition he/she is in currently but also what this individual may become later. The theory goes on to argue that caring is only effective if it promotes the health of the individual, the family and societal growth. According to Watson, caring is about the entire health well being as opposed to the curative perspective. This means that the nursing profession does not only concern itself with getting the patient cured from a disease but focuses on the patient becoming healthy and regaining the harmony of the mind, soul and spirit. In this perspective therefore, she states that the science of caring goes hand in hand with the science of curing. The nursing profession’s agenda, based on Watson’s assumptions should be categorically, offering care. This care entails considering all the carative factors that make the individual achieve satisfaction in the needs they pursue in life (Fawcett, Watson, Neuman, Walker & Fitzpatrick, 2001).
How the Watson’s theory model addresses the concepts of person, environment, health, and nursing
The Watson’s model has put emphasis on the person, the environment, health and the nursing practice in general. The human being has been comprehensively described as a central component of the nursing profession. It looks at the person as an integral part that requires all the necessary attention. The person in question deserves to be cared for, to be understood and respected. It gives a paradigm shift to the whole concept of offering health care to patients from simple diagnostic and treatment procedures to a more compressive affair that involves a closer understanding of the patient as a human being with psychological, physical and many other needs. This avoids the treatment of an individual as a sum of the body parts they are made of and considering the entire person from body, soul and mind (Watson, 2006).
Jean Watson observes the environment from a unique perspective. The society/environment greatly determines the relationship between the patient and the nurse. According to her, care is an integral part of any human society and having the caring attitude as a professional is not a hereditary concept transferred across generations. It’s promoted by the professional culture in a profession as a method of fitting in an environment. The working environment should therefore be more enhancing in promoting a caring attitude by the professionals. By establishing the culture of caring attitude, will automatically influence all to acquire it. The legendary nurse, Nightingale, revolutionized an attitude in her environment by changing the concept of treating patients as clients with her close focus on their wellbeing (Watson & Smith, 2002).
Watson’s concept of health markedly differs from that of the World Health Organization as she describes health as a high level of functioning in all spheres of human life. These are the physical, mental and social components. To her being healthy means the ability to have a level of functioning normally in day to day living and activities as well as the absolute absence of any form of illness whether mental or physical. She argues that if an individual is struggling to avoid such illnesses either by a change in the normal life style or way of thinking, then such a person is unhealthy (Fawcett, Watson, Neuman, Walker & Fitzpatrick, 2001).
Her concept of the nursing profession is that it should concern itself with providing care to the sick in an effort to bringing back their health. Nursing also entails promoting healthy lifestyles and coming up with ways of preventing illness of mental, social or physical body components. With focus on promotion of good health, prevention and or treatment of diseases, the aspect of caring in the nursing profession will be highly enhanced. In her theory of human caring, Watson defines nursing as “a human science of persons and human health-illness experiences that are mediated by professional, personal, scientific, esthetic and ethical human transactions” (Basavanthappa, 2007, p105).
How the theory addresses health promotion and primary health care principles.
According to Watson’s theory, provision of primary health care and health promotion is given in a new dimension. It is a clear shift from the conventional model of curing illnesses in patients by the nurses to comprehensive provision of health care that aims to harmonize the mind, body and soul. She describes the shift as “Curative to Curative” which is achievable in ten ways. These are the formation of a human approach in dealing with the patient. This entails the full expression of a caring attitude to the patient. In this context the care provider, consciously puts himself/herself on the same platform as the patient. In this way, the care giver is able to respect the human dignity of the patient as though it were his/hers. By practicing kindness, the care giver demonstrates a respect for other people. This makes the patients feel appreciated and as a part and parcel of the medical care system .Through the one on one interaction between the nurse and the patient, the nurse is able to identify the condition of the patient better and this puts him on a better platform to give the most appropriate recommendation. This will also help the nurse understand the challenges or vulnerabilities the patients go through in their struggle with illnesses which acts to inculcate a sense of being concerned and listening to others with a genuine reason and purpose to offer the necessary help. The altruistic system that encourages humane approach to the profession enables one to appreciate the special talents that others possess and accept every one as they are without placing any judgment on them( Drenkard, 2008).
The theory stresses on instillation of faith and hope .This entails offering a platform for one to believe that everything is alright. This is possible through constant encouragement to the patient. By availing oneself to assist the sick greatly improves their level of confidence and in turn boosts their recovery process. Listening to the patient promotes connection and interaction so they do not feel neglected or as a bother to others. By allowing the patients to express their feelings results in relief on their part. It is a sign of honor when patients interact freely with the nurse as it helps to incorporate their desires and values as well as their beliefs in the treatment process. The interaction between a nurse and a patient brings out the role of arts and sciences in an effort to find the best solution in the healing process. This association also helps in motivating the hopeless, giving them a renewed impetus to live in a meaningful way .This challenge is common in patients with terminal illness (Watson & Smith, 2002).
Another element of carative approach is the helping in achievement of the patient needs. The care giver should be ready and willing to meet the needs of the patient. This is by developing a sense of respect to the patient and providing them with essential needs to facilitate their healing process. This creates comfort since it acts as an assurance that their needs will be met. The meeting of all the patient’s needs leads to enhanced recovery as it is said to bring back the three components (mind, body and spirit) of wholeness. The Watson’s theory proposes the promotion of caring environments to facilitate healing of the spiritual component. Many patients always suffer and may harbor negative thoughts and feelings about themselves or others. The presence of the nurse’s support has a great impact on the expression of these attitudes. By creating a close relationship, the nurse is able to encourage the patient which contributes to the healing process. The act helps in encouraging expression of feelings and expectations. Through exchange of experiences, one is able to learn from others or be a source of new ideas on how to handle certain situations (Watson & Watson Caring Science Institute, 2009).
Primary healthcare is promoted through development or creation of trust in human relationships. A member of the healthcare department facilitates healing with ease in patents by forming a trust-based relationship with them. This helps the patient to comfortably confide in the health professional on matters deemed secretive or confidential. This could be of great importance to the nurse in providing the best advice concerning any problem the patient may be experiencing. Trust- based relationships offer the appropriate platform for non-judgmental interactions. The helpful and caring nature of these relationships helps in extending unconditional love to others and responding to their requests in times of need. It creates a platform for respect in the profession since the communication between the patient and the nurse is professional in nature. This communication promotes effective and result oriented discussions that in turn result in improved health (Drenkard, 2008).
The carative approach allows for integration in the use of scientific techniques of problem solving and the social aspect. By applying these two knowledge areas, it becomes easy to handle even the most complex of cases. The combination of ethical and personal aspects in management of patients makes the entire process of treatment focus on the patient as a human who needs assistance to be whole again as opposed to the use of only a scientific approach that aims at offering cure to an illness without the actual consideration of the patient’s human value. The systematic handling of the patient helps him/her to contribute in the entire plan of healing process since a platform is extended for them to give their opinion in the process as they are the central components in the entire process. The Watson’s idea of providing support, care and protection to the patient facilitates human connections. These play an important part in creating an environment for healing. Provision of an enhancing environment during the healing process, increases the potential of the components of the body to achieve harmony which is an integral element in healing (Watson, 1999).
In the entire process of health care provision, a vital concept is the adoption of a culture of being sensitive to others. By being sensitive to a patient’s needs, the nurse is able to arouse healing mentality in the patient. It is a demonstration of caring and the aspect of being concerned about others’ welfare. This transforms the profession from the official role of giving medical care to being a part of the healing process of a patient (Watson & Foster, 2003).
Application of the theory during assessment, diagnosis, planning, implementing and evaluating patient care
The Watson’s theory offers a clear guideline in the nursing process in areas of assessment, diagnosis, planning, implementing and evaluating patient care. This is because the nursing process has a similarity with research process in terms of procedure. In assessment and diagnostic step, I would use techniques such as observation to help identify the actual problem through analytical review and then use my literature knowledge to formulate a workable method of analysis. Assessment would also entail formulating a hypothesis, stating clearly all the variables in the data that will be used in finding a solution to the problem (Watson & Watson Caring Science Institute, 2009).
In effective planning of the patient care, I would choose the most appropriate techniques of data collection in addition to determining what data to collect and from what patient. The plan would also include choosing the most workable methods of examining data and the most accurate techniques and apparatus to measure. The entire plan would involve a clear design to be used in solving the problem at hand. The Watson’s theory clearly describes the collection of all necessary data for analysis as the implementation of the plan. This is because with the data, one is able to do comparative studies with literature data or use the raw data to interpret a condition and make an inference concerning the results obtained (Watson & Watson Caring Science Institute, 2009).
Evaluation of patient care is an important element in the nursing process. This involves analysis of data and examination of any effects that may arise from the interventions. Evaluation also entails interpretation of obtained results. I would use this evaluation data to develop more hypotheses (Watson & Foster, 2003).
The Watson’s theory is a revolution in the nursing profession. The theory emphasizes on the importance of putting the patient at the center of the nursing process as opposed to the conventional treatment of patients as clients looking for medical services. The theory is based on values and assumptions to explain human caring from a metaphysical, existence and spiritual perspective. The theory’s main strengths are that it places the patient (formerly client) in a broader context of the nursing process, the family, the community and the integrated culture of the whole society. Additionally, the theory emphasizes the patient to be the central focus of the nursing practice rather than technology. The theory, however; has some gaps. These are; the ten carative factors developed by Watson have largely delineated all psychosocial needs of the patient. The theory also accords little attention to the person’s biophysical needs. Furthermore, its applicability in nursing practice needs more research backup.
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