Spiritual Care

What is your definition of spiritual care? How does it differ or accord with the description given in the topic readings? Explain. This is the topic reading Christian Spiritual Care As discussed earlier in this book, worldview questions (e.g., “Where did I come from?”) correspond to the basic Christian narrative acts of creation, the fall, redemption, and restoration, as people make sense of God, their relationship with God, and their role and actions in this world according to the Bible.

This understanding also guides how important decisions are made. With the context that human beings are inherently spiritual beings, then they have a need for spiritual care in whatever stage of life. For nurses and other health care providers, understanding a patient’s internal worldview is at the core of how providers approach their administration of health care, their ability to respect that worldview, and the belief system of the patient. Being intentional and attentive to a patient and his or her family’s spiritual needs leads to positive holistic health care outcomes. Nursing has long been associated with spirituality and how it helps to inform and make meaning of life situations to patients.

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Nursing educators Timmins and Caldeira (2017) state that for religious people, “spirituality refers to the soul and its protection and nurturing during life … ‘protected’ through correct moral thought and by living as directed through sacred texts” (p. 50). Research continues to demonstrate that there is a positive relationship between spirituality, health, and well-being (Hall, Hughes, & Handzo, 2016). Spirituality affects every aspect of a person’s life, so offering emotional and spiritual care support should be an important focus for all health care providers. Even though The Joint Commission (TJC) requires all patients be asked about how their spiritual and religious preferences may impact their health care, only 54-63% of hospitals fulfill these requirements through employing professional health care chaplains (Hall et al., 2016). Nurses who understand the importance of spirituality and faith can effectively fill in the gap and administer effective soul care to those in need.

By understanding and providing interventions that help relieve spiritual distress, nurses can help reduce the patient’s worries and concerns, which allows for more complete physical, emotional, and social well-being. Often a nurse can promote this by asking simple questions such as, “What has helped you cope well in the past?” or “What gives meaning to your life?” and “Do you have any spiritual or faith preferences?” If a nurse is truly attentive, he or she can easily see what may bring comfort or angst as a patient provides answers to these questions. A patient’s spiritual needs, even if unspoken, should always be a primary focus for treatment in this area, not the spiritual ideals or specific religion of the nurse. Nurses should not assume they must be religious or steeped in a specific faith tradition to give quality spiritual care, attending to the whole person inwardly.

Although many patients will follow formal religious and theological doctrines, and often express those beliefs through traditional religious rites and practices, many others will seek to express their spiritual beliefs, morals, and life values in other diverse ways. These can sometimes be determined by looking at a patient’s overall demeanor. Similar to a hospital chart that identifies levels of pain through simple facial expressions, with some practice, a health care professional can also look for expressions of sadness, gloom, depression, concern, and fear, among others. Because of the complexity of spirituality, “nurses feel underequipped to provide spiritual care” and often “struggle to articulate a functional or ‘actionable’ definition of spirituality, and are ‘uncertain about what constitutes spiritual care’” (Hughes et al., 2017, p. 3). 

Most patients and their families “do not anticipate in-depth, specialized spiritual care from their nurses, but they do have a strong expectation for some basic spiritual care connections including interventions such as active and empathic listening, proactively communicating, and expressing compassion” (Hughes et al., 2017, p. 8). Another way to view this is to consider what the person is experiencing internally even as nursing care primarily focuses on physical care. As reviewed, a person’s spiritual beliefs and values will guide day-to-day decisions as well as critical health and end-of-life-treatment choices. 

Within that context, this chapter will discuss the topics of advance care planning, end-of-life care options and decisions, a foundation for Christian theology and holistic spiritual care, and how to use a spiritual needs assessment tool to discover any spiritual needs of the patient or their family. On the surface, one might not see how each of these connect, but underlying all these topics and decisions are the individual’s worldview that really does inform how individuals view life and death. As previously introduced, this understanding of one’s worldview both determines and distinguishes each patient’s unique personal values, experiences, and spiritual beliefs.

Role of Spirituality in Clinical Care and End-of-Life Decision-Making A person’s spirituality and faith values impact his or her understanding of illness as well as health care decisions. Several critical decisions informed and influenced by one’s spirituality are advance care planning, self-autonomy preferences around treatment, and understanding of illness and medication or treatment compliance (Puchalski et al., 2014). For example, does the individual view his or her current diagnosis and illness as a blessing, a curse, or another form of punishment from God? Understanding the person’s perception of the illness can aid the clinician’s development of appropriate treatment plans. If someone thinks the illness is a punishment, he or she may not be amenable to treatment. :Nursing Homework Help

The nurse should consider: What is the patient’s life story, and how does the illness and treatment choices fit into that story? Spirituality, beliefs, and faith values will, in turn, impact a patient’s compliance to medical treatment recommendations. For example, religious beliefs may impact choices about blood transfusions and use of certain medical treatments. For example, a member of the Christian Science faith tradition is highly discouraged against taking vaccinations, a Muslim patient may want to be alert at the time of death and decline a palliative treatment of morphine, or a Jehovah’s Witness is unlikely to consent to blood products because of religious views, even if the choice leads to death. Grand Canyon University (Ed.). (2020). Practicing dignity: An introduction to Christian.

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