Beyond Medication: 10 Spiritual Care Tips To Help Patients

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A spiritual approach to health and healing can benefit every person. According to a study in 1999 on more than 1,200 cancer patients, scientists concluded that spiritual well-being contributed just as significantly to the quality of life as physical and emotional well-being. 

Professionals in the health care field are concerned about more than just their patients’ physical wellbeing. They also care about their emotional and spiritual health. However, they realize that providing spiritual care isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. Each person’s spiritual journey in recovery is different, and they expect different forms of support. Health care professionals can help identify when someone might need more spiritual support and explore the patient’s needs in this regard.

Let’s check out some of the ways they can do so:

  1. Support them in their faith

Providing spiritual care does not aim to convert patients into your religious beliefs; it allows patients to connect to the divine if they wish. As you work with them, you should remember that they are captive audiences, often in hospital beds, they would rather not be in. When patients are in these circumstances, showing compassion and love is always the right thing to do. However, telling them what they should believe is not fair.

Caregivers may feel conflicted by this because they want to adhere to their own beliefs. They can try their best to help patients by seeking the help of professional chaplains. These professionals have extensive knowledge about assisting patients in finding meaning in life and exploring what matters to them. By obtaining a master’s degree in spiritual care, either on campus or through online chaplaincy programs, they can assess spiritual distress in patients and identify their spiritual needs.

  1. Be Empathetic

Spiritual well-being means feeling at peace for some people. As a healthcare professional, your simple presence can be meaningful for the patient. No words are necessary to understand what the patient is experiencing. You don’t even have to say anything. Be empathic, accepting, and valuing. You can soothe deep spiritual pain by being a silent companion and cultivating a feeling of empathy and peace.

  1. Observe non-verbal cues

Additionally, you can pay attention to nonverbal cues from your patient. When they are in need, patients may not speak up as a sign of politeness. Some people are in an uncomfortable situation that makes it difficult for them to communicate their needs. It is crucial to meet the physical needs of your patient before offering any form of spiritual support. This includes adjusting the bed, switching off the TV, or assisting them with their personal hygiene needs.

  1. Let Them Lead

In hospitals, patients are treated as guests, so they should be allowed to lead. As a healthcare professional, do not show bias or judgment towards one spiritual idea. Avoid discussing religion or debates about beliefs. Let them express their spiritual needs instead. Identify what they value most and how they define hope. As they share what matters to them, you can listen for clues to whether the patient is struggling spiritually. Some patients are unaware of their spiritual standing, so you might start by asking them if they are searching for meaning, feeling isolated, or afraid of the unknown.

  1. Ask Them How You Can Help

You can provide spiritual care to patients by simply asking how you can assist them and following through on that request. Ask the Rabbi in your community whether he would be willing to visit your patient if they are a Jew, for instance, and wants to see a rabbi before surgery. However, don’t make any promises that you can’t keep. Tell them that you will do your best to arrange it instead of guaranteeing them what they want at an agreed time.

  1. Listen to their fears

When they begin to express concerns, the first thing people say is, “I know how you feel,” and then they tell a story about their own experience. But keep in mind that you’re there to cater to the patient rather than vice versa. The best way to provide spiritual and emotional support is to validate their fears and concerns. For instance, when a patient expresses concern, you can say, “I hear you were afraid. It must be overwhelming.”

Don’t take it personally if they refuse to talk to you. Consider it a sign that it’s not the right time. Offer affirmations, gentle questions, and thoughtful comments to encourage the patient to speak. 

  1. Take Help From a Professional

Counselors and social workers can talk to patients in a way that uplifts their spirits and encourages them. Additionally, you can suggest they take a deep breath, stay calm, and focus on positive thoughts. In addition, you can memorize some encouraging quotes or verses that have inspired and encouraged you.

  1. Help them reflect on good memories.

Encourage your patient to think about previous pleasant experiences. Ask them if they remember what brought them comfort in similar situations. In addition, help them recall the support and love they received from family, friends, or a spiritual source in the past.

  1. Share the experience

Consider the meaning and challenges of living with the patient. Recognize that you do not fully understand what life is all about or why people suffer. Work together to explore these issues. Understand how to cope with a patient’s tears and accept their emotions calmly.

  1. Make inspirational statements and use inspirational music

Sacred texts and inspirational materials provide comfort for many people. Let the patient choose the book they want to read or ask a volunteer to read to them. If the patient wishes, provide them with the music of their choosing; perhaps family members can provide a CD collection of soothing music.

Conclusion

When you’re a healthcare professional, you do more than your job. You strategically offer support with words and offer assistance during challenging times. Perhaps you are uncomfortable with the idea of providing spiritual care. Providing spiritual care does not require you to be religious. While some patients take a formal religious path, many seek meaning through other means. Practicing spirituality can be simple and natural. Using some key concepts, you can learn to use effective spiritual practices.