The World Health Organization (WHO) states that one of aims of hospice care is to improve the quality of life of a patient and family members facing a life-threatening illness. The goal is achieved by alleviating and preventing suffering, which implies early detection, assessment, and relief of pain and other painful symptoms, as well as the provision of psychological, social, and spiritual assistance.
Hospice care encompasses all aspects of a person’s life, including their medical, emotional, social, and spiritual needs. People with terminal illnesses typically think about their life in new ways, and their spiritual needs may change as a result.
What do spiritual needs entail?
To different people, spirituality means different things. Spirituality can include religion and faith, yet spirituality is not always religious. Whether or not we belong to a religion, everyone has spiritual needs during the course of their lives. Spiritual needs may include:
- Our desire for meaning and purpose in life.
- The need to love and to be loved
- The desire to be a part of something
- The need to feel hopeful, peaceful, and grateful
Depending on what’s essential to us, people do different things to meet their spiritual needs. Some people practice their religion through praying or attending religious services. For others, it may be spending time with friends and family, spending time in nature, or working or engaging in hobbies.
What is most essential to a person might change during their life.
At Hillside hospice, we pay special attention to the spiritual needs of our patients.
What other support is available?
Asking the patient if they would like any other support may be very important. A patient may want to speak to a faith leader or a spiritual leader if they have a religion. This may often put the patient’s mind at peace and prepare them for the inevitable. Depriving patients of this kind of need may create anxiety and fear.
The local hospital, hospice, or palliative care team may have a chaplaincy service. These chaplains are trained specialists who help patients (or anyone) of no or any religion so as to help them find a meaning to life and explore what is important and essential to them in life. This can also bring great peace to the patient.
Talking to a psychologist or counselor, a specialized hospice care social worker, or going to a local support group may also be helpful.
Sometimes, spiritual care can be interwoven with psychological care. Psychosocial support refers to the emotional, spiritual, social, and practical needs of people who are dying and is a component of hospice care. The majority of people who are in their last days in any given local community are cared for by primary health care teams. But sometimes, receiving special psychological care for dying patients by a focused hospice care team is more effective.
At Hillside Hospice, we have trained clinical teams that cater to both the spiritual and psychological needs of patients.
American Psychological Association, May 3, 2005
Retrieved from: https://www.apa.org/research/action/end
Retrieved from: https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/providing-comfort-end-life