The purpose of this paper is to illustrate the key points of Virginia Henderson’s theory “Concepts of Nursing” (CON) and its application in practice using specific examples. Henderson’s CON is a grand theory written in 1978. (Waller-Wise, 2013) The CON theory provides a definition of nursing care, responsibilities and a focus on specific areas where nursing care is required. (Waller-Wise, 2013) As Henderson (1978) writes, “Nursing is primarily helping people (sick or well) in the performance of those activities contributing to health, or its recovery (or peaceful death) that they would perform unaided if they had the necessary strength, will, or knowledge.” (p.26) It is the role of the nurse to help aid the patient back to independence as soon as possible. (Henderson, 1978) Henderson’s theory can be categorized as an “interactive model”, placing importance on the interpersonal relationships between the nurse and patient. (Tourville, 2003)
Henderson (1978) outlined fourteen different activities of daily living: breathing normally, eating and drinking adequately, elimination of body waste, movement and maintenance of desirable postures, sleep and rest, dressing and undressing, maintaining a normal body temperature and changing the environment, grooming, avoiding environmental danger or injury of others, communication, worship of one’s faith, working toward accomplishment, recreational participation and a learning and discovering curiosity that leads to normal development and maintenance of health. While all of these needs are intertwined when giving care, for the purposes of this paper, these “activities of daily living” (ADLs) will be sorted into different groups: physiological, psychological, spiritual and sociological. (Tourville, 2003) Henderson also emphasized that the nurse’s responsibility was to the patient and not to the doctor in charge. (Tourville, 2003) This paper will examine the different groups and use examples of practice to provide context for the theory’s ideas.
As stated in her definition for nursing, Henderson (1978) believes that the role of the nurse is to allow and guide the patient back to the path of independence or recovery. This would include ADLs such as breathing, eating or drinking, elimination of body waste, movement, sleeping, dressing and undressing as well as cleanliness and grooming. (Tourville, 2003) Although Henderson’s CON theory was originally intended for living patients, the concepts of this theory have extended beyond to include situations like organ donation. (Nicely & DeLario, 2011) To examine the usage of Henderson’s CON, this paper will use the example of organ donation from brain dead patients.
Breathing, eating and drinking
In their application of Henderson’s CON to organ donation after brain death, Nicely and DeLario (2011) emphasize the importance of breathing as means of oxygen delivery to maintain organ viability. As brain dead patients lose their ability to breathe or the...