Atmosphere in care settings Towards a broader understanding of the phenomenon
Sammanfattning: The overall aim of the study is to understand and describe the phenomenon ‘atmosphere in care settings’ as experienced by patients, significant others and health care staff. The study consists of four papers, each of which illuminates various aspects of the phenomenon. Data consisted of observations and interviews with patients, significant others and staff (n=126) within a hospice, a geriatric, a medical and an oncology setting, and community care settings for older people. Narrative analysis, grounded theory, and phenomenological hermeneutics were used in a triangular fashion to analyse the data. The findings illuminate the phenomenon ‘atmosphere in care settings’ as being constituted by two interacting and interwoven dimensions: the physical environment and people’s doing and being in the environment. The physical environment is the first dimension, and five aspects were illuminated, namely the physical environment as a symbol; as containing symbols; as influencing interaction; as facilitating a shift of focus from oneself to the environment, and; as containing scents and sounds influencing experiences of at-homeness or alienation. People’s doing and being in the environment is the other dimension, and five aspects were illuminated, namely the experience (or absence of experience) of a welcoming; of seeing and being seen; of a willingness to serve; of a calm pace; and of safety. It was understood that people’s doing and being influences experiences of the physical environment and that the physical environment influences experiences of people’s doing and being. The comprehensive understanding illuminated that the phenomenon is not merely subtle qualities of the place for care, but an active part of care. Both the physical environment and peoples doing and being conveys messages of caring and uncaring. The atmosphere of a care setting can at best support experiences of at-homeness in relation to oneself, others and the surrounding world.
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