The caring theory is a theoretical framework developed by Jean Watson to help enhance nursing practice, management, education and research. Watson believes that health professionals make social, moral, and scientific contributions to humankind and that nurses’ caring ideal can affect human development (Watson, 2006). Caring goes beyond just caring for a patient but also caring for oneself. Nurses and patients should share caring moments that become bigger than either the nurse or the patient, and the nurse potentiates healing by involving their own humanity (Watson, 2006). In these "caring moments" life is transcended, and the moment becomes part of both the patient and the nurse's life (Watson, 2006).
Caring can be demonstrated and practiced
Caring consists of carative factors
Caring promotes growth
A caring environment accepts a person as he/she is and looks to what the person may become
A caring environment offers development of potential
Caring promotes health better than curing
Caring is central to nursing
Watson’s theory works to evolve nursing into more than just a task-oriented job through the caritas processes. Caritas processes developed from earlier work by Watson, which started as ‘carative factors’ (Watson, 2006). Caritas originates from Latin and refers to caring as something that must be sustained, is special and fragile.
The caritas processes occur within the interaction between patient and the nurse and are the “tangible manifestation and embodiment of human caring" (DiNapoli, Nelson, Turkel, & Watson, 2010, p. 17). The Ten Caritas Processes (Watson, 2006) are listed below with a ‘real-shift example’.
1. Practice of loving kindness— Be kind to patients and coworkers alike. The practice of kindness (or lack of) will extend beyond the bedside.
2. Decision making—keep patients first in all decisions.
3. Instill faith and hope—Stay positive. Patients need you as a source of strength.
4. Practice teaching and learning that meets patient's needs and learning styles—involve family and visitors (that want to be involved) in patient education.
5. Nurture individual Spiritual beliefs and practices—Call a chaplain to speak with the patient who is clearly lonely
6. Holistic Care—Ensure care needs are all encompassing and will be met beyond the bedside.
7. Helping and Trusting relationship—if you promise to come back and check on something, keep that promise. Establish a caring presence with your patients.
8. Create a Healing environment—Keep noise down to allow patients to rest
9. Promote expression of negative and positive feelings—Pull up a chair, sit and listen to a patient that is clearly upset about something. Do the same for a coworker who is having a tough shift.
10. Miracles—Believe in them. Life is one and healing people can be one too.
Parker, M. (2001). Nursing theories and nursing practice. Philadelphia: F.A. Davis. Watson, J. (2008). Nursing: The philosophy and science of caring (Rev. ed.). Boulder, CO: University Press of Colorado.