Dimensions of Spiritual Care

elderly care

Christadelphian Aged Care recently changed the role title of our Pastoral Care Coordinators to Spiritual Care Coordinators. This new name points to something quite significant for all of us.

Good models for care consider the whole person. Guidance on achieving the Aged Care Quality Standards outline the many dimensions of care, stating: “Organisations are expected to provide care and services that reflect a consumer’s social, cultural, language, religious, spiritual, psychological and medical needs.”

This specific mention of “spiritual needs” was one reason for the name change, but what exactly is considered a “spiritual need”? More to the point what is meant by “spiritual”?

The concept of “spirit” is explained in the Bible as being like the wind blowing – you can see the leaves being rustled but you cannot see the wind itself.

Spirit can be used to describe any situation where there is an observed effect caused by an unseen force. While this might sound weird or mysterious it is actually quite commonplace; phrases like “Olympic spirit”, “Aussie spirit”, “team spirit”, “in good spirits” express the idea – an unseen force producing an observable effect. God’s spirit is also not always visible, however we know God is always with us!

In just the same way individuals can be considered as having a “spirit”, we can’t directly see this, but we definitely experience this when we are with them. Our “spirit” shows up in the expressions on our face, our reactions to others, our response to challenges, our self-esteem.

So what forms our spirit? What is it that we hold within us (unseen) that shows up in our behaviour especially regarding personal things that concern or matter most to us?

The answer to that is a diverse one but ultimately it relates to what we believe, what we value, what we find meaningful, what gives us purpose and the value we place on ourselves and others.

It is about making connections that will be helpful and supportive to residents when facing difficult times, and offering opportunities to all residents to reflect on their life’s meaning and purpose.

Making a connection is not always easy, but once you have made a connection, you are able to build trust and walk beside someone on their journey. People are all shaped by personal characteristics, experiences, values and beliefs. Aged care residents are no different.

Staff take time to actively listen and understand each resident’s personal experience. For Christadelphian Homes to uphold our Mission promise – “Treating our residents and their families with LOVE and respect”, it is important that we address diversity, whether or not a resident has told us about their unique life experiences or characteristics.

We must use strategies to support residents to feel confident sharing their identity, which ultimately benefits the workforce to see them as a whole person, understanding their spirituality.

Find out more about Christadelphian Aged Care’s Spiritual Care program.