Case study 19.2

What impact does nursing people who have lost hope have on you?

This is very individual and there are no right or wrong responses.

  • Some people state that they experience feelings of hopelessness and helplessness worrying that they may not be able to help the person or that is depressing as the person doesn’t seem to want to get better.
  • Others may feel a sense of frustration or irritability towards the person as they have a more positive view of the person or have seen people in ‘worse situations’. This might lead to you withdrawing from the person, spending only necessary time with them, detaching yourself emotionally and engaging in transactional conversation only.
  • Others may have experienced this sense of hopelessness themselves and draw on their own experience to assist the person, or find it difficult because it takes them back there.
    • Others worry about giving ‘false hope’ so temper their language and responses trying to manage expectations.

How might this impact on the person you are caring for?

Potentially compound the person’s sense of hopelessness and confirm that the situation is hopeless, they may feel undeserving of care, they may become what could be viewed as ‘demanding’ in an effort to express their feelings, they may withdraw further refusing treatment. They may appreciate acknowledgement from you that experiencing a feeling of hopelessness can be overcome. They may feel that you are not on their side or don’t have belief in them.

If you were one of the staff involved in Peter’s care, how might you engage with him in a way that would inspire hope?

Although it appears that Peter may be in a fairly hopeless frame of mind, there is one desire he has that could be built on and worked with: his wish to leave hospital. He also seems to value his friendships. This suggests that Peter has some sense of a future; it may be that by building on this, and with Peter identifying what he needs to do to secure his discharge, there is opportunity for hope to be maximised.