Connecting to what matters most
While some people may think of spirituality as purely religious, at Rowcroft we take a really broad and inclusive approach to spiritual care. In this insightful blog, Rowcroft’s Spiritual Care Specialist Katie Evans explains that spiritual care at the hospice is about helping people to connect with what matters most to them – whatever that may be.
Spiritual care is for everyone
“Spiritual care is for everyone, it’s part of holistic hospice care,” says Katie. “My starting point is that we all have a unique life story and things that matter to us. Spiritual care is about affirming these and supporting people to find meaning, purpose, belonging, hope, peace – whatever is appropriate to them. It’s a common misconception that spiritual care or chaplaincy is just for religious people or about telling you what to believe, but it’s really not like that.
“It’s a real privilege to hear about patients’ spirituality. We can be hesitant to talk about things that mean a lot to us. Sometime people will begin by saying ‘this might sound silly …’. It’s very moving to be trusted with people’s hopes, beliefs and experiences, to be able to affirm their spirituality.”
Why is spiritual care important?
“Spiritual care can alleviate distress, support wellbeing and enable us to provide truly person-centred care. Being listened to well – being given time and attention – really matters. It can make a big difference. Reflecting on life experiences and expressing feelings, having these respected and affirmed, can be a way for people to come to terms with what’s happening and find meaning or peace. It helps people connect with their own strengths and the things that bring them comfort, hope and joy.”
“When I introduce myself to patients and their loved-ones I usually say that my role is to listen, giving them an opportunity to talk about what’s on their mind or heart if they’d like to, to tell their story, to focus on what matters to them. It doesn’t have to be talking; sometimes people appreciate having someone with them simply as a supportive presence in times of distress. I always try to meet people where they are, and I’m led by them.
“If people have a religious faith, I’m glad to support them with practising that, either myself or by arranging for them to see someone from their own tradition if needed. Prayers and ritual can be very significant for some people. But this is just one aspect of my role. Most of my time is spent with people who wouldn’t describe themselves as religious.
“Another major part of my role is supporting colleagues to be confident in offering appropriate spiritual care. Everyone has a role to play in this, being able to offer a supportive presence and a listening ear when the need arises. I’m rolling out a programme of awareness raising and training for colleagues (staff and volunteers) across Rowcroft. We also offer a workshop on spiritual care at end of life as part of Rowcroft’s education programme for local health and social care professionals.”
A supportive presence
“Sometimes patients or family members are able to share with me worries, feelings or regrets that they don’t feel able to share with loved ones for fear of burdening them. Being able to voice these and being met with kindness can be a weight off their shoulders.
“Sometimes we’re with people at a time when their life is falling apart, or they’re facing great bleakness or sadness and there’s no ‘fix’ for it, but by being with them as a supportive presence, we can offer connection so they’re not alone, not isolated, and that helps.”
The Rowcroft Sanctuary
“We have a beautiful Sanctuary room within our Inpatient Unit which is available for patients, visitors, staff and volunteers for quiet reflection, prayer, meditation, relaxation etc. At the moment I’m working on expanding the Sanctuary’s multi-faith (and secular) resource collection and improving signage to make this a really welcoming space for all. We’ve received some beautiful donations of books and other devotional aids from local faith communities.”
The multi-disciplinary team
“It’s great being part of a team that really cares about doing the best for our patients and their families and loved ones. We get to know each person as an individual and put patient’s wishes at the centre of everything we do. That includes the whole Rowcroft team, not just my immediate colleagues on the Inpatient Unit and Community Team, I’ve found the same dedication and care for our community right across the organisation.”
Further information about spiritual care