1 Department of Public Health - Department of Science in Nursing, Department of Public Health, Health, Aarhus University2 University of Nordland3 Department of Public Health - Department of Science in Nursing, Department of Public Health, Health, Aarhus University
Background: Healthcare providers caring for learning-disabled individuals in institutions face challenges of what is right or wrong in their daily work. Serving this group, it is of utmost importance for the healthcare staff to raise awareness and to understand how ethical values are at stake. Research question: What ethical challenges are discussed among healthcare providers working with adults with learning disabilities? Research design: The study had a qualitative and investigative design. Participants and research context: The study was conducted in a community institution for adults with learning disabilities. Participants were healthcare providers joining regular focused group discussions. Two groups participated and each group consisted of six participants. The conversations were taped and transcribed. Ethical considerations: The study was reported to Norwegian Social Science Data Services and was approved by the regional ethics committee. Findings: Findings are presented in four themes: (a) feeling squeezed between conflicting actions, (b) being the client’s spokesman, (c) searching shared responsibility, and (d) expecting immediate and fixed solutions. The healthcare providers wanted to be the clients’ advocates. They felt obliged to speak up for the clients, however, seeking for someone with whom to share the heavily experienced responsibility. Data likewise revealed that the group discussions created expectations among the healthcare providers; they expected smart and final solutions to the problems they discussed. Discussion: The discussion focuses on everyday ethical challenges, the meaning of being in-between and share responsibility, and the meaning of ethical sensitivity. Conclusion: Ethical challenges can be demanding for the staff; they might feel squeezed in-between contradictory attitudes or feel alone in decision-making. Frequent conversations about ethical challenges do not solve the ethical problems here-and-now, but they do visualize them. This also visualizes the staff’s need for support.