I will say that spiritual care is providing the spiritual or religious needs of a patient as he/she is dealing with an illness, whether it is assisting them with physical or emotional healing. Being raised a Disciple of Christ, I was taught that the spiritual care we provide others needed to be less reminiscent of a country club and more like a soup kitchen. Providing spiritual care to others doesn’t always occur at a convenient time or place, rather, it’s the Holy Spirit working through us to help others connect to God. “The goal of Christian spirituality is not to merely know ourselves, it is to offer ourselves to God, to empty ourselves to Almighty, so that we may be available to hear God’s call and to respond” (Spirituality, n.d.). When we approach others in a humble and loving manner, like the soup kitchen philosophy, we can nurture more than an individual’s body, but their heart, soul and mind. Professionally, the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO, 1998) clearly stipulates that, “Patients have a fundamental right to considerate care that safeguards their personal beliefs”.
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Spiritual care is caring for the patient and their family members, holistically. It involves doing a complete assessment of the patient’s cultural and spiritual needs. We, as
nurses, should understand that a person’s identity and decisions are based on their cultural and spiritual beliefs and an understanding of this allows us to provide appropriate interventions that are sensitive to their needs and desires for a positive outcome. This outcome may be to help them die peacefully, according to their spiritual beliefs or cope with the unknown process of a disease. Understanding, respecting and providing spiritual care also helps reduce the patient’s anxiety and stress related to
disease processes and sometimes provides the hope they need to recover or improve their quality of life. Meilaender (2013) contends that spirituality can be as important, if not more important than physical care, which I agree with wholeheartedly. When I understand my patients spirituality and their needs, I am able to take better care of my patients based on their moral values and ethics and allow them to make decisions based on their interpretation and meaning of life.