Spiritual care has been defined as: ‘That care which recognises and responds to the needs of the human spirit when faced with trauma, ill-health or sadness and can include the need for meaning, for self-worth, to express oneself, for faith support, perhaps for rites or prayer or sacrament, or simply for a sensitive listener. Spiritual care begins with encouraging human contact in compassionate relationship, and moves in whatever direction need requires.’ (Spiritual care matters, NHS Education for Scotland (2009).)
In view of the publication of the Royal College of Nursing’s latest guide to Spirituality (which can be found HERE) we here at Chesterfield Pagans thought it might be time for a discussion: is Spirituality a valid part of holistic long and short-term patient care in places such as hospitals, cancer hospices, and other medical centres, or should these places be focusing their tightly budgeted resources on the physical well-being of a patient? If you’ve been into hospital or a medical centre to stay, have your spiritual/religious/ well-being needs been met as part of your care?
Every large hospital usually has a chapel/ prayer rooms and chaplain on duty, as a pagan would you prefer a sacred outdoor garden for you to go and connect with the divine, or simply sit in peace? If you have stayed in hospital, or visited a patient, have you used the chapel or prayer rooms for your own comfort? What about the chaplain: did you find their own Christian beliefs a factor in your decision to talk to them or not? Would your decision be different if they were a Sikh or Imam? Some larger hospitals now have a multi-faith chaplaincy, would you prefer these as standard in all medical centres?
Is being an active listener and caring for a patient beyond the physical needs simply good nursing practice? In 2009, a nurse was suspended for offering to pray for a patient, what guidelines would you set for carers, nurses and medical staff with respect to personal spirituality and religious practices?
If you have been a patient and disclosed a belief in an aspect of paganism, how have the staff reacted to it? Have you perceived a difference in the way you were treated after you told them, or a difference in how you were treated compared to the other patients? Was this a positive or negative change?
Does this holistic spiritually inclusive approach to patient care extend to places like outpatients departments, or follow-up appointments? If you were able to run a medical centre, how would you choose to balance physical recovery with spiritual care?
Let the discussions begin 🙂