Sherwin’s perspective on patients’ autonomy can help in understanding the most urgent gaps in the area and some ways to address them. The theorist defines agency as the process of making choices in terms of a limited scope of rights and opportunities. Put another way, agency refers to the process when people from oppressed groups have to make decisions by other people’s views, in terms of resources available to them, and so on. Autonomy, on the other hand, is the process of making autonomous decisions based on people’s individual choices. In the modern world, such groups as women, the elderly, and the LGBT community have relative autonomy since even if they make choices that seem autonomous, they act within the set boundaries. Many representatives of these groups may even be unaware of the fact that they have no real autonomy. This paper includes a brief analysis of the concepts of autonomy and agency as applied to the LGBT community.
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Sherwin believes that autonomy is impossible and exists as an ideal. At the same time, it is crucial for the development of a society that can strive for reaching the ideal. This perspective is referred to as the relational approach. People involved in the decision-making process or advocating for some groups’ rights have to understand and accept the fact that real autonomy is an ideal to be reached. They should act in terms of these beliefs, which will help attain numerous goals and, eventually, achieve true autonomy.
The relational approach is a useful framework for addressing the health needs of the LGBT community. It is essential to understand that these people have to make decisions based on the available scarce resources. These individuals are often reluctant to disclose their sexual orientation and health needs, which affects the way they make decisions. The nurse should understand these peculiarities and try to make sure patients develop trust and are ready to share or even comprehend their health needs.
It is necessary to add that sexual identity is very intimate, but it often becomes a matter of radical public politics because people from the LGBT community have almost no autonomy. The lack of choices and the fact that they have almost nothing to lose make this population active participants of the political processes associated with the rights of minorities. This radicalism has proved to be fruitful as the LGBT community has reached many goals and improved significantly the way these groups are treated in different areas including but not confined to health care.
Nevertheless, irrespective of some positive shifts in society, many people still oppose any changes related to sexual identity in such areas of the social fabric as health care, education, or even the family institution. For instance, opponents of liberal views on the matter claim that the LGBT community can pose a threat to public health due to the spread of such diseases as HIV, hepatitis, and the like. Furthermore, many people try to silence the needs of this population and its very existence in the educational sphere as young generations are taught by traditional views on the issue. Finally, many people fear that when this population receives more rights, some basic family values will be violated. All these concerns are deeply rooted in the lack of information.
In conclusion, it is necessary to note that the relational approach is an important framework to be used in the healthcare setting when addressing the needs of the LGBT community. These people have limited opportunities to make decisions due to scarce resources available to them, public opinion, as well as their fears and reluctance to stand for their rights. It is important to educate this population and make them experience the process of relatively autonomous decisions.