As many of you will know, the National Care Standards are currently being revised and a consultation period has recently closed. We made our comments and sent them in, and look forward in due course to seeing the results. Meantime however, Standard No. 12 is the one that interests us the most. This is the Standard that deals with ‘Lifestyle: social, cultural and religious belief or faith’. Here is the standard in full, with four specific undertakings listed as to how care staff will address the Standard:
Your social, cultural and religious belief or faith are known and respected. You are able to live your life in keeping with these beliefs.
- Staff make sure they are properly informed about the implications for you and others of your social, cultural and religious belief or faith.
- You are given the opportunity and support you may need to practise your beliefs, including keeping in touch with your faith community.
- Your holy days and festivals, birthdays and personal anniversaries are recognised and ways found to make sure you can observe these as you choose.
- The social events, entertainment and activities provided by the care home will be organised so that you can join in if you want to.
Our recent post by Dianna Wolfson described the importance ascribed to cultural and religious traditions and festivals by the older Jewish community. We also know of care homes with a specifically Christian ethos which work hard to convey a sense of continuity in observing Christian cultural traditions and festivals. But in our experience, most care homes and staff are secular. We don’t know how many care home residents have a particular faith or set of beliefs. Does this mean that Standard 12 is obsolete? By no means!
Here in FiOP we define spiritual need as ‘that which makes life meaningful’. For some care home residents, this will include religious expression – but for others, possibly even the majority, the spiritual care task lies in identifying and supporting, for every individual resident, that which makes their life meaningful.
We’re working on ways of helping care staff understand this duty, and respond to it. All suggestions welcome. Meantime local congregations have an important job to do in making supportive connections with care homes, and we know this can be difficult. So we’re going to start providing regular resources to support those of you who are regular visitors to care homes in your area. Look out for more info on the website and newsletters.