As we age, the need for spiritual care and pastoral care often come to the fore. This is particularly so as people near the end of their life. The need for comfort and peace of mind on a holistic basis. Let’s firstly lets define the difference between these two concepts.
Pastoral care is an ancient model of emotional and spiritual support that can be found in all cultures and traditions. It has been described in our modern context as individual and corporate patience in which trained pastoral carers support people in their pain, loss and anxiety, and their triumphs, joys and victories. Spiritual care attends to a person’s spiritual or religious needs as he or she copes with illness, loss, grief or pain and can help him or her heal emotionally as well as physically, rebuild relationships and regain a sense of spiritual wellbeing.
For most of human history, in all major religions, an ultimate goal of spiritual practice was accomplishing a good death. When this goal was held in common by the whole society, spiritual care could focus on the interaction between a dying person and his or her caregivers.
A number of clergy have commented to me that spiritual care is not recognised by many aged care facility staff as important. They have frequently commented on services being interrupted by staff activity, or being asked to hold services or provide pastoral care in areas of the facility that are very close to the main entrance or actually in main thoroughfare areas. This is not respectful of the needs of the residents who choose to attend, or the need to peace and calm to receive spiritual care. In learning more about the importance of these concepts, it may support good holistic care for residents if you were to discuss with the clergy and pastoral care workers whether the circumstances being provided for them to support residents are appropriate.
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