The Ability of Hospital Staff to Recognise and Meet Patients’ Spiritual Needs: A Pilot Study
Objectives: We conducted an online cross-sectional survey to determine the understanding of spirituality and spiritual care among clinical and non-clinical staff caring for people with chronic and terminal conditions. Background: As health care moves towards a more person-centred approach, spiritual care has become more important in patients’ care. Recent evidence shows positive associations between addressing patient spiritual needs and health outcomes. Methods: We administered an adapted Spirituality and Spiritual Care Rating Scale (SSCRS), used by the Royal College of Nursing, to hospital and community-care staff (n = 191) in Sydney, Australia. This survey examines perceptions of spiritual care and participant abilities to meet patients’ spiritual needs. Results: The response rate to the SSCRS survey was 84 of 191 eligible participants (44%). Agreement was high on items describing talking to and observing patients and their loved-ones to identify spiritual needs (mean – 90%). However agreement was low concerning items describing the use of data collection tools and talking with colleagues to identify patients’ spiritual needs (mean – 43%). Participants recognised patients’ spiritual needs (mean – 86%), but when asked if they were able to meet these spiritual needs, only 13% (n = 11) stated they were always able to do so. Hence, there was strong agreement on actions for guidance and support for staff dealing with patients’ spiritual and religious issues (n = 71, 85%) and that spiritual care education and training is required (n = 64, 76%). Conclusion: We have identified strong agreement of the importance of delivering spiritual care but uncertainty in the ability to recognise and meet spiritual needs of patients by clinical and non-clinical hospital staff. Our results also show that spiritual care training for hospital staff is now required. Therefore, evidence-based models of spiritual care education and training require further study.
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