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Long-term Geriatric Care and the Ethics of Place

Long-term Geriatric Care and the Ethics of Place


Leigh Turner, PhD, 2003-2004 Member, Institute for Advanced Study, School of Social Science, Princeton, NJ, USA; Assistant Professor, Biomedical Ethics Unit, Department of Social Studies of Medicine, McGill University, Montreal, QC.

Bioethicists typically pay little attention to how social and physical environments in health care facilities shape moral experience. Social scientists studying hospitals and long-term care facilities often characterize such facilities as bleak, alienating institutions. Too often, the ethics of place is overlooked as ethicists focus upon dramatic moral issues. Drawing upon my experience working as a clinical ethicist at Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care, I suggest how long-term geriatric care facilities can be designed to promote respect for privacy, foster a warm social environment, and help preserve the dignity of residents, family members and staff members.
Key words: bioethics, hospital design, long-term care, geriatric care.