Spiritual care is not well practiced within New Zealand and this is consistent with international experience. This presentation attempts to shine some light on spiritual care and encourage reflection on how and why it should be addressed in an increasingly ‘technical and science focused’ undergraduate nursing curricula.
A fundamental premise of nursing is its commitment to holistic care, and it is argued that at the centre of holistic care is spiritual care. The nursing profession has a professional and ethical responsibility to ensure that holistic care and compassion grounds practice transpire. Especially in light of an increasingly complex healthcare environment, a well-documented ageing population, increasing incidence of chronic illness, disability and changing expectations of healthcare consumers.
Spirituality is an ancient concept and has received much attention internationally. However, review of literature suggests that there remain common barriers to consistent practice of spiritual care, including lack of an accepted definition of spirituality, attitudinal objections, lack of education and little consensus about teaching. Despite these documented barriers, it is also apparent there is a groundswell of awareness of its value and importance to contemporary patient care. Without attending to spiritual care, are we truly delivering holistic care?
Future nurses must meet the changing needs of our communities and skills – genuine spiritual care is one avenue that can help to ensure compassionate, holistic care. As educators, we should reflect on our own attitudes and practices towards how we prepare students to attend to spiritual care.