What is spiritual care?

The word ‘spiritual’ finds its roots in the Latin word ‘spiritus’ which means breath. We can then ask the question,

‘What breathes life into you?’ or to put it another way,

‘What gives you a sense of meaning and purpose in life?’

The Hospice views spiritual care broadly, acknowledging the search for meaning and the need to make sense of illness and life of those who do not identify themselves as religious, as well as those who do.

Spiritual care and religious care – are they the same?
For patients with a religious belief, spiritual care and religious care are closely linked. For those with no religious belief, the Hospice recognises that spiritual care and support may nevertheless be valued and appreciated. The process of trying to make sense of what they are going through is common to all people.

Spiritual care for people of faith
The Hospice makes every effort to provide appropriate support for patients with a religious belief, either through our chaplaincy team or through liaising with a faith community leader of the patient’s choice.

I’m spiritual but I’m not religious
Many people recognise a spiritual dimension to themselves without belonging to a faith group. They may feel the need to talk to someone but prefer not to speak to a chaplain or to a member of the clergy. All North London Hospice staff members are trained to listen and offer appropriate support.

Recognising spiritual needs in those who are not religious
Spiritual needs show themselves in many practical ways. People may feel the pain of having to say goodbye to loved ones or deal with the shock of a terminal diagnosis. They may find themselves looking back over their lives and trying to make sense of past experiences and decisions. They may be thinking about relationships in their lives – past or present or they may ask questions about how they have lived their lives. Questions about God or an afterlife may emerge. In short, any subject, experience, hope or concern which draws a person into thinking about what lies close to their heart may tell us a great deal about that person’s spiritual needs.

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