Transforming Personal Care Through Ritual

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The philosophical and theoretical framework of transforming personal care through ritual is based on 5 assumptions: 1) routinization is not necessarily a good thing; 2) individuals who are deprived of “other ways” of knowing, of experiencing the everyday, will have a felt sense of helplessness and hopelessness; 3) personhood relies on memory and on the frames we construct to interpret and explain the world; 4) having a sense of purpose affects health and well-being; and 5) caregiver self-care increases productivity and well-being. The approach discussed in this article suggests that the opportunity for other ways of “doing” should be injected into the daily routine of care giving and care receiving. In fact, the American Nurses Association Code of Ethics for Nurses holds that a nurse is as morally obligated to care for his or her self as for others; this would certainly apply as well to the personal care staff in assisted living. This article discusses the key concepts that support the introduction of ritual into long-term care practice, champions, a ritual “toolkit,” self-care rituals, and 2 rituals for assisted living residents: moving into their new homes/rooms and relinquishing their driver's licenses.

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