What is the value of spiritual care at Life’s end?

Melissa J. Hart.

How does spiritual care help people who are facing life-limiting illness to find courage and equanimity? How does it help people find balance, comfort, and strength?

The added dimension that spiritual care brings to hospice and palliative medicine has enormous capacity to improve the quality of life for patients, for families, and for physicians.

Attending to the needs of the spirit can bring great comfort to the hospice patient and to his or her entire circle of care. If spiritual care is offered with respect, sensitivity, and a supportive disposition, and if it is not agenda driven, it should rarely present any disadvantage.

By being present with people and attending to them in a way that is meaningful to them, the hospice team shows patients that they are valued as fully human—that the team sees the whole of them, no matter how broken the physical body.

When patients seemingly no longer have control over their circumstances, the hospice team gives them control wherever possible by respecting their needs and wishes. The care team functions with the understanding that all of us want to know we are loved, we belong, and we are not alone.

This is the condition of being fully human. Spiritual care helps people to remember this.

Hospice Chaplaincy is a nonprofit organization committed to promoting excellence in spiritual care at the end of life. We are committed to the belief that people from all backgrounds, cultures and faith traditions should experience the end of life in a way that matches their own spiritual/religious values and goals. The task of dying is complicated and often confronts us with lots of spiritual, emotional and physical suffering. Hospice Chaplaincy is dedicated to providing support and professional development resources for hospice chaplains, patient advocacy, and education services to the public, to create a cultural shift to inform and transform our thinking around the psychosocial and psychospiritual issues at the end of life .

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