"The Golden Rule": Only a starting point for quality care.
The Golden Rule guides people to choose for others what they would choose for themselves. The Golden Rule is often described as 'putting yourself in someone else's shoes', or 'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you'(Baumrin 2004). The viewpoint held in the Golden Rule is noted in all the major world religions and cultures, suggesting that this may be an important moral truth (Cunningham 1998). The Golden Rule underlies acts of kindness, caring, and altruism that go above and beyond "business as usual" or "usual care" (Huang, 2005). As such, this heuristic or 'rule of thumb' has universal appeal and helps guide our behaviors toward the welfare of others. So why question the Golden Rule? Unless used mindfully, any heuristic can be overly-simplistic and lead to unintended, negative consequences.A heuristic is a rule of thumb that people use to simplify potentially overwhelming or complex events. These rules of thumb are largely unconscious, and occur irrespective of training and educational level (Gilovich, Griffin & Kahneman 2002). Rules of thumb, such as the Golden Rule, allow a person to reduce a complex situation to something manageable-e.g., 'when in doubt, do what I would want done'. Because it is a simplifying tool, however, the Golden Rule may lead to inappropriate actions because important factors may be overlooked.In this article we describe "The Golden Rule" as used by administrators, supervisors, charge nurses, and CNAs in case studies of four nursing homes. By describing use of this rule-of-thumb, we aim to challenge nurses in nursing homes to: 1) be mindful of their use of "The Golden Rule" and its impact on staff and residents; and 2) help staff members think through how and why "The Golden Rule" may impact their relationships with staff and residents.
Corazzini, KN; Lekan-Rutledge, D; Utley-Smith, Q; Piven, ML; Colón-Emeric, CS; Bailey, D; Ammarell, N; Anderson, RA
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