Dying at home: nursing of the critically and terminally ill in private care in Germany around 1900

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Abstract

Dying at home: nursing of the critically and terminally ill in private care in Germany around 1900

Over the last twenty years, ‘palliative care’ has evolved as a special nursing field in Germany. Its historic roots are seen in the hospices of the Middle Ages or in the hospice movement of the twentieth century. Actually, there are numerous everyday sources to be found about this subject from the nineteenth century. The article at hand deals with the history of nursing the terminally ill and dying in domestic care in the nineteenth century. Taking care of and nursing the dying was part of everyday routine in the nursing care as practiced by the deaconesses and sisters in those days. Mit der Seelenpflege bei den unheilbar Kranken und Sterbenden schufen die Kaiserswerther Diakonissen sich einen von Ärzten unabhängigen Kompetenzbereich. Meine Analysen zur Privatpflege zeigen jedoch darüber hinaus, dass die in ihrer Aufmerksamkeit auf das Mutterhaus ausgerichteten Diakonissen auch in Leibespflege sehr viel unabhängiger von den Ärzten zu agieren schienen als die freien Krankenschwestern. The article takes a look not only at the actual nursing activities but also at the relationship between the sisters and their patients and their relatives and the family doctor. On the basis of the recorded letters which the nurses wrote to the deaconess motherhouse in Kaiserswerth, it is also possible to analyze how the deaconesses communicated and reflected their actions at the deathbed.

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