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The art of enduring contradictory goals: challenges in the institutional co-construction of a 'good death'


Soom Ammann, Eva; Salis Gross, Corina; Rauber, G (2016). The art of enduring contradictory goals: challenges in the institutional co-construction of a 'good death'. Journal of Intercultural Studies, 37(2):118-132.

Abstract

This paper focuses on the normative notion of ‘good death’, its practical relevance as a frame of reference for ‘death work’ procedures in institutional elder care in Switzerland and the ways in which it may be challenged within migrant ‘dying trajectories’. In contemporary palliative care, the concept of ‘good death’ focuses on the ideal of an autonomous dying person, cared for under a specialised biomedical authority. Transferred to the nursing home context, characterised by long-term basic care for the very old under conditions of scarce resources, the notion of ‘good death’ is broken down into ready-to-use, pragmatic elements of daily routines. At the same time, nursing homes are increasingly confronted with socially and culturally diversified populations. Based on ethnographic findings, we give insight into current practices of institutional ‘death work’ and tensions arising between contradicting notions of a ‘good death’, by referring to decision-making, life-prolonging measures, notions on food/feeding and the administration of sedative painkillers.

Abstract

This paper focuses on the normative notion of ‘good death’, its practical relevance as a frame of reference for ‘death work’ procedures in institutional elder care in Switzerland and the ways in which it may be challenged within migrant ‘dying trajectories’. In contemporary palliative care, the concept of ‘good death’ focuses on the ideal of an autonomous dying person, cared for under a specialised biomedical authority. Transferred to the nursing home context, characterised by long-term basic care for the very old under conditions of scarce resources, the notion of ‘good death’ is broken down into ready-to-use, pragmatic elements of daily routines. At the same time, nursing homes are increasingly confronted with socially and culturally diversified populations. Based on ethnographic findings, we give insight into current practices of institutional ‘death work’ and tensions arising between contradicting notions of a ‘good death’, by referring to decision-making, life-prolonging measures, notions on food/feeding and the administration of sedative painkillers.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Swiss Research Institute for Public Health and Addiction
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:2016
Deposited On:13 Feb 2017 09:41
Last Modified:31 Mar 2017 07:23
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN:0725-6868
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1080/07256868.2016.1141755

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