‘The challenge to take charge of life with long-term illness’: nurses' experiences of supporting patients' learning with the didactic model

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Abstract

Aims and objectives.

The aim of this implementation study is to describe nurses' experiences of supporting patient learning using the model called ‘The challenge to take charge of life with long-term illness’.

Background.

Supporting patient learning for those suffering from a long-term illness is a complex art in nursing. Genuine learning occurs at a deep and existential level. If the patient's resistance to illness can be challenged and reflected upon, the patient may take charge of his/her life.

Design.

The project lasted for 2 years and was initiated by a former patient on an assisted haemodialysis ward and involved 14 registered nurses. The project began with a session to review patients' learning and the didactic model. Monthly reflective meetings and group supervisions were held that focused on the nurses' experiences of supporting patient learning. Notes were written during these reflective meetings and group sessions.

Methods.

Data collected from interviews, notes and written stories were subjected to phenomenological analysis.

Results.

Three aspects of nurses' experiences of the learning support approach were assessed: To have the courage to listen sincerely, a movement from providing information to supporting learning, and to let the patient indicate the direction. The approach resulted in an increased focus on genuine dialogue and the courage to encourage patients to take charge of their health process.

Conclusions.

The changes in nurses' approach to learning support reveal that they shift from providing information on the disease, illness and treatment to strengthening and supporting the patient in making decisions and taking responsibility. For nurses, the change entails accepting the patient's goals and regarding their own role as supportive rather than controlling. The didactic model and involved supervision contributed to the change in the nurses' approach.

Relevance to clinical practice.

The didactic model might be useful in caring for persons with long-term illness, making the care more person-centred and enhancing the patient's self-care ability.

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