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P-148  Spiritual care, human and divine, at end of life – models fit for the future
  1. Ann Fulton
  1. St Margaret’s Hospice, Taunton, UK


Nelson Mandela is quoted as saying: ‘If you talk to a man in a language he understands that goes to his head. If you talk to a man in his language, that goes to his heart’.

Seeking to speak into the heart of all our patients and carers our hospice has moved over the last two years from chaplaincy to spiritual care – not just in name but in philosophy of care. We have been developing a model which overtly honours the spirit human and divine, and cares for each individual as a spiritual person. Patient records and stories demonstrate the relevance of this philosophy of care.

Moreover our vision is that, as spiritual beings, all staff and volunteers – clinical and non-clinical – are spiritual carers and we are rolling out a programme of formal and informal training.

Mindful that the future of hospice care lies in the community and that research states “there is an urgent need to develop policy and practice in community settings to support people dying at home”. (‘Spiritual Care at the End of Life: a systematic review of the literature’, DH 2011, p38.)

…we have initiated three community pilot projects, initially working with church groups, skilling lay people in spiritual care at end-of-life:

structure – flexible eg a single session or series of sessions; working with/supporting individual carers over a period of time; training the trainer, ‘pump priming’;

timescale – negotiated with each project;

content – exploration and practice of concepts and skills, including caring for ‘non-faith’ people;

evaluation to include feedback from those ‘cared for’, carers and healthcare professionals;

next steps

  • pilots working through secular agencies

  • exploring new models, eg ‘telecare’/social media

  • ‘training trainers’.

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