In early June, Faith in Older People and the Scottish Partnership for Palliative Care held a joint conference which had the aim of considering the impact of recent policy initiatives in relation to spirituality and palliative care and the extent to which spiritual care is seen as an integral part of person-centred care towards the end of life.
The conference provided an opportunity to consider the policies and their impact on practice in a variety of settings which reflect the integration of health and social care. Delegates had an opportunity to share experiences, to discuss potential for improvement and to identify how such improvements might best be supported.
The integration of health and social care is a key Scottish Government policy aimed at redefining how we deliver services and how we collaborate across professions, sectors and budgets. The conference was set in this context and we wanted to consider the two delivery plans with perhaps embrace the less obvious elements of the process – palliative care and spiritual care. The Palliative Care Framework is being implemented whilst the spiritual care delivery plan is still under consultation.
Both address how we should deliver good person-centred care particularly at the end of life. Perhaps both highlight areas in which there are misunderstandings of what they represent and importantly how they can be effectively delivered and enabled.
Each of these key delivery plans refer to the other – a principle in the palliative care strategy relates to spiritual care and spiritual care is considered in the light of end of life and a rights based approach. They need to talk to each other in order to meet the needs of patients and residents. We need to consider how implementation can encompass training and skills in both sectors; be key elements in providing quality care and be readily understood and put into practice. We need to better ensure that the links are made and the different policy initiatives that come under the umbrella of integration are aligned to ensure proper implementation.
Strategic Framework for Action on Palliative Care and End of Life Care 2016-2021 – The Scottish Government December 2015
National Delivery Plan for Spiritual Care in Scotland 2016-2021 is being consulted upon at the present time – two key elements in the role of spiritual care staff are:
- ‘helping people to discover hope, resilience and inner strength in times of illness, injury, transition, loss and death’
- ‘ ….. to mark significant moments in life and death using ritual and in other meaningful ways’