Is spiritual care at end of life crucial?

Categories: Care.

A patient with life threatening illness is making a highly personal pilgrimage and the nurse walks with him part of the way.
Spiritual assessment is essential to effective and sensitive spiritual care.
Family care givers of these patients also find comfort and strength from their spirituality that assists them to cope.
KEHPCA chair Dr Brigid Sirengo said that spiritual needs of patients are not always understood and nurses are not at all times prepared to respond to or even perceive the spiritual needs of patients and families.
Considering nurses’ frontline position, coordination role and intimacy with the concerns of patients, the holistic perspective on care, and even with their lack of religious cloaking, nurses are ideal professionals for spiritual assessment.
Addressing over 300 delegates who attended the KEHPCA’s third Kenya National Palliative Care Conference 2012, Dr Sirengo argued that while the nurse questions a patient about spirituality, the nurse is simultaneously assisting the patient to reflect on the innermost and most important aspects of being human.
“There is need to ask appropriate questions and listen attentively to the patient’s spiritual and sacred story and answers.” She said.
Dr Sirengo, who is also the Chief Executive Officer of Nairobi Hospice, said there may be need for a patient to see a priest, Imam or other spiritual leaders.
She added that it is the right of the patient to attend a place of worship, have time to pray or meditate, receive sacraments, perform certain rituals/rites in accordance with one’s culture or be surrounded by holy objects.
The KEHPCA chair said that the individual has to make sense of what is happening to him or her during this stage of life.
In his abstract on spiritual care at the end-of-life, the spiritual care coordinator of Hospice of Washington County Stephen Taylor said that spirituality is the essence of humanity.
Taylor said that hospice spiritual care is integrated into the total care of each patient and family in order to help them discover the purpose, peace and comfort in their journey toward life’s end.

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