Oral Presentation The 26th International Nursing Philosophy Conference 2023

Theory informed practice change: the democratising potential of emancipatory practice development (#79)

Jacqui Peet 1 , Karen Theobald 2 , Clint Douglas 2
  1. School of Health, University of the Sunshine Coast, Sippy Downs, Queensland, Australia
  2. School of Nursing, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, QLD, Australia

Emancipatory Practice development (ePD) is a practitioner-led change methodology established within the critical paradigm. ePD enables workplace transformation by working with practitioners in their local context on practice issues that are important to them. Underpinned by critical social science and using skilled facilitation, critical reflection and action learning, practitioners engage in an active process of change towards embedding safe, person-centred cultures. This presentation reflects on the democratising potential of a year-long ePD research journey in an acute care hospital setting. We explore how ePD enables practitioner awareness of structures of power and inequality within healthcare systems. These are locally reproduced in wards by dominant ideologies and hegemony1 and become the prevailing narratives in how nursing work is organised at the micro system level.

Through Habermass' work on communicative action2, we note the challenges nurses face from competing interests in their workplaces that impact their public sphere. However, the open communicative spaces established through an embedded facilitator, enabled the nurses to critique their context and reclaim their practice enquiry. This was a space to discuss matters of common concern. Through this process, the nurses built collective strength and collaborations with leadership which transformed their workplace. We argue that facilitation and communicative action enabled the nurses to collectively deliberate, establish consensus, disrupt the status quo, foster democratic discussions and influence their local context. Practice change was sustained through these co-operative democracies and meso level leadership enablement.   

  1. 1. Brookfield, S., Foundations of critical theory. Advances in developing human resources, 2014. 16(4): p. 417-429.
  2. 2. Habermas, J., Theory of communicative action: Lifeworld and system-a critique of functionalist reason. Vol. two. 1987, Cambridge UK: Polity Press.