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Putting phenomenology into practice - towards an ontology of person centered healthcare

Mitchell, Derek Robert (2017) Putting phenomenology into practice - towards an ontology of person centered healthcare. Masters by Research thesis (MA), Manchester Metropolitan University.


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In this research I have set out a philosophical basis for person centered healthcare. I have uncovered the philosophical ground on which this rests in an attempt to show how practice can be improved, and how examples of person centered practice can be transferred between individuals and institutions involved in the commissioning and provision of healthcare. Philosophy is the instrument through which we understand why systems work and philosophy is therefore the key to unlock the potential of person centered healthcare. By providing an underlying architectonic this work will help to enable practitioners to understand the benefits of person centered healthcare practice in promoting autonomy in those who are suffering from chronic and other illnesses. I have used the existential phenomenology of Martin Heidegger and Gadamer’s work on hermeneutics to provide support to the argument in favour of a person centered approach to healthcare. Phenomenology offers a rich and subtle way of thinking about how we know what we know, and this applies to our knowledge and understanding of how healthcare works just as much as it does to all other kinds of knowledge. Existential phenomenology, with its emphasis on the first person lived experience of people who are ill and receiving care provides a method of discussing, understanding and grounding person centered healthcare which is philosophically robust, and which offers policy makers, and those commissioning and providing healthcare, clear guidance on how to make their practice person centered. Using examples from my own experience of illness and healthcare along with account given by others I have shown how the purpose of healthcare is understood as the preservation, restoration and maximisation of personal autonomy, how a person centered approach is the most appropriate response to this purpose, and how the philosophical ground which I have set out becomes manifest in the practice of person centered healthcare.

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