The constraints of the ordinary: 'being with' in the context of end-of-life nursing care
Haraldsdottir, E. (2011) The constraints of the ordinary: 'being with' in the context of end-of-life nursing care, International Journal of Palliative Nursing, vol. 17, , pp. 245-250,
The concept of 'being with' was an essential part of the hospice philosophy developed by Cicely Saunders, and one that she believed was a key element in the care of the dying. In Saunders' philosophy, 'being with' is a specific moment of engagement between a health professional and a patient whereby the patient has the opportunity to examine and express their thoughts and feelings relating to their imminent death. This study examined how 'being with' was implemented as a part of ordinary day-to-day practice in a hospice in Scotland. The study was based on the principles of ethnomethodology, which aims to reveal embedded and taken-for-granted rules and behaviours that determine practice. The data collection and analysis revealed that the nursing practice was constructed in such a way that 'being with', as Saunders understood it, could not be initiated either by a member of the nursing staff or by the patients. By adopting the philosophical framework of Heidegger, the study offers an understanding of how the nursing staff had developed 'being with' as provision of comfort in order to protect both themselves and the patients from engaging with painful emotions associated with facing death.