Solving the “Personhood Jigsaw Puzzle” in Residential Care Homes for the Elderly in the Hong Kong Chinese Context

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Abstract

End-of-life care studies on the nature of personhood are bourgeoning; however, the practices utilized for achieving personhood in end-of-life care, particularly in a cultural context in which interdependent being and collectivism prevail, remain underexplored. This study seeks to examine and conceptualize good practices for achieving the personhood of the dying elderly in residential care homes in a Chinese context. Twelve interviews were conducted with both medical and social care practitioners in four care homes to collect narratives of practitioners’ practices. Those narratives were utilized to develop an “end-of-life case graph.” Constant comparative analysis led to an understanding of the practice processes, giving rise to a process model of “solving the personhood jigsaw puzzle” that includes “understanding the person-in-relationship and person-in-time,” “identifying the personhood-inhibiting experiences,” and “enabling personalized care for enhanced psychosocial outcomes.” Findings show how the “relational personhood” of the elderly can be maintained when physical deterioration and even death are inevitable.

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