Background A Systematic Literature Review of Spiritual Care (Holloway 2011) undertaken for theEnd of Life Care Strategy in England highlighted the need for education of frontline staff.
Aim To assess whether a programme designed to raise awareness, increased the confidence, skills, knowledge and ability to recognise, and address, the spiritual and religious needs of patients.
Method Two Cancer Networks in the North of England commissioned an experiential awarenessraising package consisting of both e-learning and face to face taught components. Facilitators weretrained to deliver the face to face (F2F) component locally in a cascade fashion and the e-learning (online) programme was managed and facilitated centrally. Each participant completed and pre andpost course questionnaire based on a Spiritual Care Competency Framework (Gordon and Mitchell 2004). The results were analysed together and separately for each mode of learning.
Results Since 2007, 1939 participants have undertaken the course: 1722 F2F; 217 online.
Participants were nurses, doctors, social workers, healthcare assistants and other health and socialcare workers. For this evaluation pre and post course questionnaires were completed by 646participants: 421 F2F and 215 online. Overall there were statistically significant differences inquestionnaire scores obtained for knowledge about understanding and meaning of spirituality, skills indiscussing spiritual issues and distress, and confidence in assessment and documentation, apartfrom issues of confidentiality and the ability to build relationships with patients and families whichwere not significantly different. There were only slight differences between the scores for F2F andonline learning.
Conclusion The course provides demonstrable increased awareness of spiritual issues, patientneeds and how to address them, with participants expressing increased confidence, skills andknowledge unrelated to the mode of learning despite this being an experiential course.