Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 5-1-2017


Anthropology | Family Practice Nursing | Feminist Philosophy | Geriatric Nursing | Philosophy


Jean Keller, Philosophy


As one goes through the process of aging and approaches death, they experience a series of losses: from the loss of physical or mental ability to the ultimate loss of life. These losses make the individual vulnerable to harms that can come from a variety of sources. One source is found within the everyday interactions of long-term care nurses and aides with their elderly, dying residents. Creating this harm stems from a poor nursing practice where the nurse or aide fails to recognize and promote the resident’s dignity and autonomy. The normal notion of dignity and autonomy does not encompass the humanity of residents. To assist the nurse in recognizing patient autonomy and dignity in the end of life, I expand the notion of dignity and autonomy while turning towards care ethics to create a just long-term care nursing practice. These four aims of long-term nursing care are: addressing the resident’s bodily and security needs, promoting the dignity of identity and recognizing the resident’s shifting sense of autonomy. In order to fulfill these aims, I point out several factors which increases the nurse or aide’s sense of work related stress and detracts from their ability to properly care for their residents. The management of the facility is ethically bound to address these points of stress in order to ensure the proper care of their staff and residents. One small solution I propose involves a three-step process to implement self-care in the workplace. I hypothesize that this solution will help to promote a less stressful, supportive nursing culture while decreasing medical interventions or the number of falls within the facility.