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Nurses’ own inner conflict can hinder presence

In our journey with presence, we were not only curious about what enhances presence, but also about what could limit presence in nursing. Mrs Precious Motshabi set out to find out more, in her masters degree study titled: Perceptions of nurses at a public mental healthcare establishment in the North West Province on factors limiting presence.

The purpose of her study was to explore and describe the views of nurses working at a public mental healthcare establishment in the North West Province on factors limiting presence. She applied a qualitative descriptive inquiry design. Mrs Motshabi invited participants, and held interviews with 10 professional nurses, to hear from them what they view as factors that limit presence.

Meaningful findings emerged. Participants shared how they view mental healthcare users (psychiatric patients), and told Mrs Motshabi about circumstances, facts and influences that limit, restrict and hinder them to get to know the mental healthcare users and their needs and to provide good care. They also shared their own needs in providing good care.

Based on the findings of her study, Mrs Motshabi came to very interesting conclusions. Presence can be limited due to nurses’ own inner conflict: when they struggle with their view of mental healthcare users as dangerous and unpredictable – leading to a need to maintain a safe distance – and their wish to maintain caring relationships with mental healthcare users and being advocates for them. Presence is furthermore limited when nurses are focused on obtaining ‘information about’ the mental healthcare users, instead of building relationship. Language barriers, lack of trust, distorted cognition in the mental healthcare user and staff shortages are additional factors that limit presence. Nurses expressed that they are in need of support and encouragement, and need to be equipped to provide good care through presence, which involves connecting, knowing self and others, overcoming ‘distance’, and negotiating for the needs of others and themselves.

Mrs Motshabi is writing a scientific article based on her study, and her mini-dissertation will be available at the North-West University’s library. We acknowledge the financial support provided by the National Research Foundation of South Africa.

Thank you, Mrs Motshabi for your valuable contribution to our understanding of presence. We wish you well!

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