Advancing Spiritual Care Through Research

A competency model for the assessment and delivery of spiritual care

The delivery of spiritual and religious care has received a high profile in national reports, guidelines and standards since the start of the millennium, yet there is, to date, no recognized definition of spirituality or spiritual care nor a validated assessment tool. This article suggests an alternative to the search for a definition and assessment tool, and seeks to set spiritual care in a practical context by offering a model for spiritual assessment and care based on the individual competence of all healthcare professionals to deliver spiritual and religious care. Through the evaluation of a pilot study to familiarize staff with the Spiritual and Religious Care Competencies for Specialist Palliative Care developed by Marie Curie Cancer Care, the authors conclude that competencies are a viable and crucial first step in ‘earthing’ spiritual care in practice, and evidencing this illusive area of care.