Jaarsma P, Gelhaus P, Eklund Saksberg M
Nurs Ethics - (-) 9697330231185944 [2023-08-19; online 2023-08-19]
Two ethical challenges of nursing home nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic in Sweden are discussed in this paper. Historically, the nurse's primary concern is for the person who is ill, which is the core of nurses' moral responsibility and identity. In Sweden, person-centered care is generally deemed important in nursing older nursing home residents. To chart moral responsibilities of nursing home nurses in two cases involving older residents during the COVID-19 pandemic in Sweden. We used Margaret Urban Walker's framework for moral responsibilities and the International Council of Nurses (ICN) code of ethics for nurses (2021) for our normative analysis. Written and verbal consent was obtained before the interviews, and information was given that participation was entirely voluntary and possible to cancel at any time before the work was published. The Swedish Ethical Review Agency gave an advisory opinion stating that there were no ethical objections to this research project (Dnr. 2020-05649). Case #1: a palliative older nursing home resident who was coercively tested for COVID-19, and case #2: a COVID-19-infected resident with dementia who was isolated using sedation. The decision that was finally made in the respective case was analyzed in the light of either consequentialist/utilitarian or non-consequentialist/deontological reasons. Empowerment of nurses as moral agents is required for the application of practical wisdom in the balancing of different care relationships (responsibilities), moral identities (professional virtues), and competing moral values. This requires resources and opens possibilities for profound ethical reflection in nursing education and at work. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the moral and professional responsibility of nursing home nurses to deliver person-centered care was sometimes problematically abandoned in favor of a more utilitarian manner of ethical decision-making.