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The spiritual environment in New Zealand hospice care: identifying organisational commitment to spiritual care

Abstract

Objectives Spiritual matters naturally arise in many people who have either a serious illness or are nearing end-of-life. The literature shows many examples of spiritual assessments, interventions and care; however, there is a lack of focus on organisational support for spiritual care. We aimed to ascertain the structural and operational capacity of New Zealand's hospices to attend to the spiritual needs and concerns of patients, families and staff.

Methods As part of a larger study, a mail out cross-sectional survey was distributed to 25 New Zealand hospices and asked details from staff about facilities, practices and organisational aspects of spiritual care. Data were collated by creating a ‘hospice setting spiritual score’ based on an aggregate of eight items from the survey.

Results There was a 66% response rate. Summary scores ranged from 2 to 7 indicating that while sites delivered a range of spiritual services, all could improve the level of spiritual care they provide. The two most common items missing were ‘spiritual professional development’ and ‘formal spiritual assessment.’

Conclusions This simple setting spiritual score provides a snapshot of a hospice's commitment to spiritual care. It could be used as a preliminary auditing tool to assist hospices in identifying organisational and operational aspects that could be improved to enhance spiritual care delivery.

Keywords
  • Hospice care
  • palliative care
  • spirituality

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