Stories families/whanau tell to describe care by nurses within hospitals: a narrative analysis

Rasmussen, Shayne
Dickinson, Annette
Water, Tineke
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Master of Health Science
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Auckland University of Technology

Having a child in hospital is a stressful time for the whole family, yet existing research of this experience has predominantly focused on the perspectives of the boarding-in parent/guardian. Consistent with the theoretical approaches of working collaboratively with families, this study explores the experience from families’ perspectives, seeking to understand how care is revealed in their stories. The narrative analysis has explored the meaning of care constructed by these family/whanau as revealed within the stories they tell of their experience and contextualised with wider socio-cultural narratives. Stories of care are analysed with structural, performative, thematic and creative narrative lenses to explore the narrative processes the storytellers used. The genre narrative lens of Frank (1998a) highlighted the performative nature of the stories and the competing narratives influencing them. Participant experiences are presented as interpretive stories (McCormack, 2000a) – a representation that weaves participants’ stories with the interpretive process. In this way the stories of care are shown with the influences of context clearly evident. Nine families, whose children have been cared for by nurses in hospital, have told stories of their experiences of nursing care. The stories span diverse care contexts yet also demonstrate some similarities across families and experiences. Families perceived care when they and their child are acknowledged as unique and deserving of personal attention. Their stories reveal that physical and socio-cultural hospitalised spaces both support and undermine their sense of care. The families have told stories of wanting to trust, yet feeling the need to hold some personal agency in reserve, never entirely confident. Throughout the stories however, families remain grateful and gracious toward the nurses for the care received. Families often expressed a lack of personal agency and bewilderment, even when they were more familiar with the environment. They seek to be effective parents in spite of unfamiliar systems and staff, and experience a lack of certainty when this is not supported. While there are many quest-type stories of resiliancy and stoicism, they are interspersed with chaos-type stories of passivity and disempowerment that challenge their understandings of nursing and care. These stories show the chaos often experienced by families and the ways that nursing care can support them through this

Narrative , Nursing , Hospitalised child , Families , Care , Child health
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