“Spirituality is the dynamic dimension of human life that relates to the way persons (individual and community) experience, express and/or seek meaning, purpose and transcendence, and the way they connect to the moment, to self, to others, to nature, to the significant and/or the sacred” (European Association for Palliative Care, also adopted by the National Consensus Project for Quality Palliative Care in the USA).
This broad and inclusive definition of spirituality summarizes the nature of spiritual care provided at Rotary Hospice House. While our chaplains are Christians, they provide spiritual care for patients of all faith traditions as well as those without a specific faith tradition. We recognize that every person seeks meaning, purpose and transcendence in their own way. Specifically Christian care, is provided in the form of prayer, readings, Communion, and the Sunday service, an interdenominational service that is relayed to patients by means of Zoom during the COVID-19 pandemic. The chaplains also sometimes take funerals for those who pass at hospice. Conversations with the chaplains at end-of-life often naturally dwell upon matters of meaning, purpose and transcendence but as often, roam from stories of days gone by to the latest in news and sport. For those who have lost a loved one, grief support is available in the form of grief support groups. These comprise a series of sessions (on Zoom during the pandemic) with groups of 3-4 people in which the nature of grief is explored and support provided as participants share their grief journeys.
We often say that everyone at hospice is involved in spiritual care. This is evident in the conversations that patients have with staff, from the cleaner, cook and volunteers, to the nurses and physicians. Topics ranging from the menu to medication, often become conversations about meaning, purpose and transcendence. Spiritual support is also evident in the tone of the care that is given – it is caring, practical, and respectful.