Simbolismo do cuidado para crianças em acolhimento institucional [Symbolism of care for children in institutional care]

PENHA, M. R. dos S. Simbolismo do cuidado para crianças em acolhimento institucional [Symbolism of care for children in institutional care]. 147 p. Master’s Dissertation – Universidade Federal de Pernambuco, Recife, 2022. 

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Abstract: Children, as social beings, build their meanings for things in their relationships with society. They can express the meanings attributed through stories, games and other playful approaches. Social interaction in the institutional environment can reframe the child’s understanding of the world, including care. Institutionalization can be understood as the withdrawal from living with the biological family, where the child is protected by the State for violations of their rights. The rupture and fragility of family and social bonds can harm the child’s care and self-care processes, harming their good health and development. The nurse, as a member of the multidisciplinary, team can use health education and continuing education strategies that contribute to the care of the child in the host environment. This study aimed to reveal the symbolism of care for children in institutional care. This is a qualitative, descriptive, exploratory study, carried out in shelter institutions in the city of Recife/PE, with 18 children between seven and ten years old. The sample was delimited by the theoretical saturation of the data. Data collection took place from October 2021 to March 2022, following the assumptions of Grounded Theory, using the Drawing-and-Story Procedure. The data were analyzed in the light of Symbolic Interactionism. The research was approved by the Research Ethics Committee of the Federal University of Pernambuco. Among the study participants, 10 were male, with institutionalization time ranging from one to twenty-one months. Regarding the main reason for institutionalization, neglect, violence and abandonment were mentioned. Data analysis resulted in three categories: reaffirming care as a family role; making food a symbol of care; expanding the view on the multiple spheres of care; and the central phenomenon was adopting self-care as an expression of care. Institutionalized children express self-care as a symbol of care. Based on their interactions with their caregivers, children interpret the care actions received and internalize these practices, building for themselves self-care routines and contributing to the culture of caring for the body, represented by the provision of physical needs. Furthermore, it is considered necessary to enhance these self-care practices in the promotion of educational actions capable of strengthening the skills already developed and adding new knowledge to the child as a symbol of their self-care. The inclusion of other professionals, such as nurses, can contribute to the development of these health education practices that strengthen self-care and the performance of continuing education activities that train professionals in the shelters. In addition, the nurse can act in the articulation of health and social assistance actions carried out in favor of the improvement and maintenance of care for the sheltered. 

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