In the essay, I will first name the concept and mention the major issues that I have identified from the research as a group. I will critically look at the link to practice using example from my clinical areas. Finally I reflect on the whole process using the Gibbs (1994) Reflective Cycle which encourages a description of the situation, analysis of feelings, evaluation of experiences and analysis to make sense of the experience and to examine what you would do if the situation rose again.
The presentation was on the concept of empowerment. Through the presentation, I was able to identify that empowerment is a multi-dimensional social process that helps people gain control over their own lives. It is also the process that fosters power in communities and society by acting on issues they define as important. Nevertheless, one can ask is empowerment a universal concept? According to Lukes (1994) empowerment is like obscenity, you have trouble defining it but you know it when you see it.
Another issue identified was that of the history/origin of empowerment. According to Oxford English dictionary the English term empowerment originated in the second half of the 17th century. But it gained widespread currency in the 1960 linked to North American Black radicalism. It’s modern use originated in the civil rights movement, which sought political empowerment for its followers. (The American Heritage)
We looked at the advantages and disadvantages of empowerment. One of the benefits is that the individual changes in confidence and consciousness therefore leading to increase in skills, abilities e.g. earning an income, access to market and network. Another benefit is the increase in informed choice within a framework of human right and equality (Jack 1995). It was also identified that empowerment enhanced perception of a person own individuality, interest and value by allowing one to express their likes, dislikes and morals. It also increased role in decision making by allowing one to have more power over the decision making and choices as well as participate in activities and planning (Kendel 2004).
One of the disadvantages was that it may lead to decrease in individual empowerment particularly if strategies to increase participation fail to take account of one’s wishes to be involved and their specific aptitudes, self belief and skills (Jack 1995). Another draw back is that an individual can be disempowered if there is a mismatch between their wish for empowerment and the expectation of others. Some people may not desire the goals set for them the extent of change often depends on resources and the decisions of people in positions of power (Kreisberg 1992).
In view of the benefits and problems, one may ask who has the right to empower. Do people want to be empowered and what are the right ways to empower. According to Luke (1994), a zero-sum conception of power means that power remains in the hand of the powerful unless they give it up. Although this is certainly one way that power is experienced, it neglects the way power is experienced in most interactions.
Other issues identified were the importance and means of empowerment. Self help groups, patient are initiative, communication strategies and health promotion was mentioned in this section. In the conclusion of the presentation the empowerment of the patient and nurse were not clearly identified and lacked reference. One of the many issues concerning the profession of nursing is the concept of empowerment. This concept can be looked at from two different levels.
One is from the level of nurses empowering the clients and two the nurses being empowered by their environment (Lewis and Urmston 2000). Nurses in the field of client care come across empowerment in the context of nurse and client relationships many times over their career. It is then the job of the nurse to help the client become empowered. As with becoming healthy, clients must empower themselves, as they has the maximum impact on their life and health (Kuokkanen and Leino-Kipi 2003). Nurses can only help by creating a sense of client self-worth and supporting the process by providing knowledge and skill.
A nurse’s goal in a client empowering situation is the well-being of the client and the client playing the part of an equal partner and active participatant in regaining health. For example in one of my clinical placement, patients are invited to a weekly discussion on the progress of their health. They bring in their opinions and suggestions of the way they think is best to look after them. The active participation of the client in regaining health and creating a client-nurse setting is an advancement of client empowerment from the traditional passive patient, nurse patient setting, where the client would be on the receiving end of the relationship and depend entirely on the care-giver to help him or her gain health (Nyatanga and Dann 2002). In nurse-client relationship however, power is sometimes shared, there is mutual respect, trust equality and understanding of client healthcare needs (Nyatanya and Dann 2002).
The nurse does not simply take over and assume what is right for the client, but participates in a collaboration of ideas, views and opinions. The final decision, after being appropriately informed about the positive and negative of the situation is left to the client (Gibson 1991). Example of this is where I witnessed a doctor explaining the reason why a patient have to sign a consent form after explaining the benefit and problems he will face after his surgery. Patient was given opportunity to ask questions and decide whether he wants to go ahead or not. In order for mutual understanding to take place there must be self awareness on the part of the nurse. The nurse must not only be aware of patient personal values, but also their views and opinions.
Although empowering the patient may be a useful slogan there’s a danger that it acts as an ill defined or even misleading banner to travel under. As we know empowerment literally means the giving of power, but might more accurately be interpreted as creating opportunities which enable and encourage power to be taken. Patient self empowerment may therefore be a more accurate description than empowering patients (Jack 1995). While we cannot empower patients, practices and structures can be changed so that people are no longer disempowered in being unable to exercise existing powers of control or choice.