Introduction Spiritual care is an integral part of palliative care. However, there is evidence that providing effective spiritual care is not achieved in most settings (O’Brien, Kinloch, Groves, et al., 2019; Harrad, Cosentino, Keasley, et al., 2019). Spiritual care means different themes for different people. These can be related to the need for meaning and purpose, to love and feel loved, the need to feel a sense of belonging and the need to feel hope, peace and gratitude. For some people, it can be related to their faith. There are still data to indicate that patients with some faiths are not served by hospices as per their population ratio (Public Health England, 2016; Ahmed & Siddiqi, 2015; Currow, Ward, Plummer, et al., 2008).
Methods We held a seminar with the topic of ‘Faith at the end of life’, where we held focus groups with two questions: (1) What prevents healthcare professionals in providing effective spiritual care? (2) What can we do to change that?
Analysis and Results 63 healthcare professionals attended. They were from medical, nursing, spiritual care, social care and allied healthcare professional backgrounds. They were divided in to six groups and discussion was facilitated by an experienced professional. Themes about barriers were: lack of knowledge, lack of time and right environment, not having confidence in team members, lack of language, ‘death denying culture’, confusion between religion and spirituality, difficulty having an answer leading to avoidance, fear of offending, fear of communicating poor prognosis, communication skills and fear of own emotions. Themes to bring about changes were: training; identifying own spiritual needs; developing right language and communication skills; raising the profile of spiritual care; developing resources and websites, and regular reflection and support.
Conclusion Despite long-standing effort from the hospice movement, healthcare staff still struggle with the concept of spiritual care needs. Hospices need to develop targeted training programmes and reflection for staff and support non-hospice staff with resources and training.
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