Knowing-in-action that centres humanising relationships on stroke units: an appreciative action research study

Gordon, Clare orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-7181-1244, Ellis-Hill, Caroline, Dewar, Belinda and Watkins, Caroline Leigh orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-9403-3772 (2022) Knowing-in-action that centres humanising relationships on stroke units: an appreciative action research study. Brain Impairment . ISSN 1443-9646

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Background: Equal, collaborative and therapeutic relationships centred on the person affected by stroke are important for supporting recovery and adjustment. However, realising these relationships in hospital practice is challenging when there is increasing focus on biomedical needs and organisational pressures. Despite a body of evidence advocating for quality relationships, there remains limited research describing how to achieve this in clinical practice. This appreciative action research (AAR) study aimed to describe the processes involved in co-creating meaningful relationships on stroke units.
Design and methods: An AAR approach was used to develop humanising relationship-centred care (RCC) within two hospital stroke units. Participants were staff (n=65), patients (n=17) and relatives (n=7). Data generation comprised of interviews, observations and discussion groups. Data were analysed collaboratively with participants using sense-making as part of the AAR cyclical process. Further in-depth analysis using immersion crystallisation confirmed and broadened the original themes.
Findings: All participants valued similar relational experiences around human connections to support existential well-being. The AAR process supported changes in self, and the culture on the stroke units, towards increased value being placed on human relationships. The processes supporting human connections in practice were: (i) sensitising to humanising relational knowing; (ii) valuing, reflecting and sharing relational experiences with others that co-created a relational discourse; and (iii) having the freedom to act, enabling human connections. The outcomes from this study build on existing lifeworld-led care theories through developing orientations for practice that support relational knowing and propose the development of RCC to include humanising values.

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