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Professor Paula McGee discusses nursing with dignity

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VOL: 98, ISSUE: 17, PAGE NO: 33

Professor Paula McGee, PhD, MA, BA, RN, RNT, is nursing research fellow, University of Central England, Birmingham, and chair of the Transcultural Nursing and Healthcare Association

The Nursing with Dignity series set out to help readers understand patients' religious beliefs by learning from individual members of different faiths. Each article has provided an insight into the core beliefs and values of members of each religion featured and the ways in which these can vary because of differences in interpretation and individual preferences.

The Nursing with Dignity series set out to help readers understand patients' religious beliefs by learning from individual members of different faiths. Each article has provided an insight into the core beliefs and values of members of each religion featured and the ways in which these can vary because of differences in interpretation and individual preferences.

Beliefs and values can be expressed in many different ways, for example, through patients' choice of food, specific practices such as circumcision or fasting, and perceptions of health care interventions, such as organ donation, blood transfusion and contraception.

This diversity challenges stereotypical ideas about specific faiths and encourages health care professionals to pay close attention to the wishes of individual patients and clients.

The series has also shown the similarities between what at first glance may appear to be very different religious beliefs. But each religion places a high value on human beings and seeks to give meaning and purpose to their lives. For those who believe, religion usually has a positive impact on their lives and can help them to cope with stress and other problems.

Health professionals are beginning to recognise that some religious practices can be beneficial to people's health. For example, meditation can reduce stress and help with mental health problems.

Visiting the sick, particularly the dying, is a religious as well as a social duty, and a personal act of kindness that is intended to give comfort and demonstrate care. This presents a challenge to those health professionals who react negatively when, for example, some patients receive more visitors than others. Certain health professionals may feel the need to reconsider such attitudes.

Change is not easy to achieve and requires constant effort at all levels in the NHS. The Transcultural Nursing and Healthcare Association aims to support health professionals in developing their skills through a range of activities, including educational events, conferences, opportunities for networking, consultancy and regular newsletters. The association works to promote competent health care that is based on a continuous process of learning, enabling patients to feel confident in those who care for them.

- If you would like to join or learn more about the Transcultural Nursing and Healthcare Association contact Liz Welch, tel: 020 7233 5750. You can also visit the association's website at: www.fons.org/networks/tcnha

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