Advancing Spiritual Care Through Research

The Spiritual Care of Sick Children: Reflections from a Participation Project

The authors are a multi-disciplinary team of chaplains, one with a counselling qualification, and an academic with a research background in spirituality and youth work. A pilot participation project undertaken at Birmingham Children’s Hospital (UK) focused on increasing the understanding of the spiritual needs of sick children and young people and involving children and young people in improving the service and provision of spiritual and religious care to them. Views from children, young people and parents were sought with the intention of developing resources and training that help facilitate the meeting of spiritual and religious needs of children and young people in hospital. Within the wider chaplaincy team are chaplains from the six major world faiths and this project considers spiritual needs of children and young people who perceive themselves as belonging to a faith group or not. Reflections from the pilot include identifying ten principles and practices to inform the spiritual care of sick children and proposing the concept of interpretive spiritual encounters as a tool for spiritual care. The pilot study indicated that being more proactive in offering spiritual care enhanced the quality of service offered by Chaplaincy.