In a recent blog I highlighted the ‘My Home Life’ project which included as part of the journey of experience for residents the importance of support for faith and spiritual care.
Our Training and Development Co-ordinator, Helen Welsh, recently undertook a very small study of how spiritual care is understood and supported within a care home setting. The study took place in five care homes and we are conscious of the limitations within which the work was done but it does provide a good snapshot on which to build future work.
Some key elements which emerged were:
- the important role that is played by Activities Co-ordinators in enabling wider discussions during the process of a particular activity
- recognition by care home staff of their own spiritual needs and that by doing so they are better able to identify and meet those of their residents
Helen used Koenig’s 14 aspects of spiritual care as the basis of the study and the following is the list as prioritised by the care home staff participating:
- Personal dignity and sense of worthiness
- To find meaning, purpose and hope
- Unconditional love
- Rising above circumstances
- To love and serve others
- To forgive and be forgiven
- Validation and support of religious behaviours
- Support in dealing with loss
- Engagement in religious behaviours
- Expression of anger and doubt
- Being thankful
- Feeling that God is on their side
- Preparing for death and dying
One of the other issues highlighted in the study was the role of care home chaplains which ought to be further explored. In two of the homes represented in this sample, there was an organisational chaplaincy role. This is perhaps unusual. More often, care homes are served by local faith groups who may involve themselves to a greater or lesser extent. However, this latter approach is less systematic, and much less likely to offer support to staff struggling with the emotional anxieties of the job. Chaplaincy is now well established within the NHS and the lessons learned in that field would be a valuable resource for care homes in establishing their own support systems.
There is much food for thought and action in the report and our thanks to Helen Welsh for the work she undertook on this issue. See the report Addressing the spiritual care needs of older people in care homes.
As always thoughts and ideas for follow up would be welcome.