The blurred boundary between professional and lay home nursing knowledge and practice in New Zealand, 1900-1935

Pamela Wood

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    2 Citations (Scopus)


    In New Zealand, the state registration of nurses was instituted in 1901. This was a marker that nursing had achieved professional status. Although many registered nurses (RNs) worked in private practice or as district nurses in people's homes, lay home nurses had an essential role in caring for the sick. This article reports a comparative analysis of information available to lay home nurses in domestic health guides with information for RNs in professional nursing textbooks, for the period 1900-1935. It shows that despite RNs' professional status, domestic health guides gave more detailed information than nursing textbooks on many subjects until the end of the research time period. The boundary between registered and lay home nurses' knowledge and practice was therefore blurred. Exploring this indistinct boundary challenges understandings about the clear division between professional and lay knowledge and practice. This has particular relevance in a time when health systems increasingly depend on care provided in the home by family members. Home nursing has always been a crucial component in any system for the care of the sick. Historically, caring for people at the end of life or those with chronic and acute illnesses depended largely on the commitment of untrained women, nursing their own family members at home and supporting neighbors to care for the ill in other households.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)E1-E7
    Number of pages7
    JournalHome Healthcare Nurse
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2013

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