Spiritual care in nursing is the care which responds to the needs of patients when faced with trauma, ill health or sadness. These needs can include the need for self-worth, faith support, rites or prayer, or simply for a sensitive listener. Spirituality is about hope and strength, purpose, belief in self and others, values, relationships, morality, and self-expression. Spirituality in nursing care is not about religious beliefs and practices or about imposing one’s own beliefs and values on another.
In order to address the spiritual needs of patients, nurses require a caring attitude and disposition. They should treat spiritual needs with the same level of attention as physical needs. Nurses should use observation to identify people’s cues that may indicate underlying spiritual needs. For instance, peoples’ disposition (sad or withdrawn) and personal items such as photos, religious/meditational books and symbols.
Nurses should be aware of when it’s appropriate to refer clients to another source of support, such as a chaplain, counsellor, another staff member or a family member. If nurses feel that they are out of their element, they can seek help from fellow colleagues, the Chaplaincy team, social workers, psychologists and counsellors.
Spirituality in Nursing Care: A pocket guide. (2011). Royal College of Nursing. Retrieved from: http://www.rcn.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0008/372995/003887.pdf