University of Pretoria

Moral Anguish of Caring in Covid-19 Pandemic: Ubuntu Perspective


Wednesday, 31 March 2021







Professional nursing care is multidimensional. It involves the physical, mental, social, spiritual, emotional and cultural aspects of care. The delivery of holistic care to patients involves the synchronisation of the multidimensions. Often, to achieve the synchronisation of these dimensions of care nursing professionals make a lot of sacrifices that often go unnoticed to their patients.

The spirit of Ubuntu offers a vehicle through which nurses achieve the balance in the delivery of holistic care to patients, minimise compromise to personal care and receive appreciation for the care delivered.

Ubuntu centered care revolves around people caring for each other. Every member of the community looks out for each other even during sickness for a person is only a person through others. Patients expect to be visited in the wards by family members during visiting hours as part of caring and ubuntu. The visits make them feel loved and cared for. They are given an opportunity to have conversations with their loved ones. Nurses also enjoy the visiting hours as they also get the opportunity to meet their patients’ loved ones. However, the COVID-19 pandemic brought moral distress to the nurses, patients and their families because of the high infectious rate of the virus and the limitations to the hospital visit which was beyond nurses’ control. The synchronisation of the multidimension of the professional nursing care to patients was disrupted. This disruption created a new dimension of moral distress in the professional nursing care.

Nurses go through moral distress when there is a clash in the clinical judgement of the nurses and the execution as result of external factors that are beyond their control.

Unfortunately, this moral distress is misinterpreted by patients who cry foul in the care they receive from the hospitals. The patients and their families viewed the care that they receive during this period, unacceptable and devoid of Ubuntu principles. The purpose of this seminar is to therefore explore and describe the moral distress experienced by the nurses, the perception of the patients and their families and the proposed solutions as practiced by the health practitioners in the health care sectors.


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