To be present, share and nurture: a lifeworld phenomenological study of relatives’ participation in the suicidal person’s recovery
In today’s health care, participation is acknowledged as important. However, there is limited research on how relatives of patients at risk of suicide experience their opportunities to participate in care during periods when their close ones are subject to inpatient care. The aim of this study was to describe the phenomenon of participation, as experienced by relatives of persons who are subject to inpatient psychiatric care due to a risk of suicide. The study was conducted through a reflective lifeworld research (RLR) approach, based on phenomenological philosophy. Eight relatives of patients receiving care from professionals in a psychiatric specialist health care context in Sweden participated in phenomenon-oriented interviews. Data were analysed to elucidate a meaning structure of the phenomenon. The findings show that the phenomenon of participation was more associated with patients’ recovery processes than with the caring process, and means “being actively involved in a process in which the person regains the desire to live”. The meaning of participation is further described by its meaning constituents: struggling for being able to be present for the person at risk of suicide, being able to share everyday life, and nurturing sources for vitality. These insights into the meaning of participation highlight the importance of allowing supportive relatives to be a part of the patient’s life, while the person is cared for in an inpatient hospital setting. Thus, participation enables relatives to be acknowledged as resourceful human beings in the patient’s recovery process, and thereby facilitates a sense of being able to manage and share life itself together with the person. This means that mental health nurses need to recognize individual variations of relatives’ participation processes, and take on the responsibility of acknowledging relatives’ lifeworlds.