Factors Of Vulnerability In Nursing

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When considering and discussing vulnerability, it is important to immediately acknowledge that any person entering a healthcare setting for treatment and care puts themselves in a vulnerable position. However, the perception of vulnerability greatly differs from person to person dependant on experience and individual factors (Phillips, 1992). As such there is a continuum of vulnerability that encompasses a myriad of factors such as potential, circumstance, permanence and inevitability (Copp, 1986) As a nurse, it is vital that we consider, understand and assess all factors relating to the patient with regards treatment and advocacy in relation to their care plans and beyond.
Vulnerability refers to the difficulty or inability of an individual to cope with external risks and shocks to their person or their circumstances. Combined with internal factors, such as a feeling of helplessness, a patient will be unable to cope without damaging loss; where loss is defined as someone who becomes physically, mentally or emotionally weaker as a result of these internal and external factors (Chambers, 1989). It is for this
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To be vulnerable is to know that there is potential damage to one’s humanity and self-worth. The instant and lasting effects of vulnerability cannot be downplayed, with nurses and other health professionals being actively empathic to addressing a patient’s needs, or absence of needs, absolutely key to their care (Copp, 1986). While there are always limitations to what official policy can do; any action will fit better “… when based on sensitive understanding of who are at risk, what they want and need, and how they cope” (Chambers,

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