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Holistic approach to healthcare celebrated in pastoral research

A research paper investigating spirituality and its links to creating a nurturing environment that reinforces healing has praised the holistic care provided at St John of God Bendigo Hospital.

St John of God Health Care Lent

13 May 2019

The paper What spirituality means for patients and families in healthcare, published in the Journal of Religion and Health in October 2018, featured interviews of patients and their families about the spiritual care they received in hospital.

Study author Fiona Gardner said the study found that spirituality offered through pastoral care practitioners and all of those involved in providing healthcare can contribute to a person feeling they are in a nurturing environment that reinforces healing.

“The results support the view that all staff and volunteers should be seen as contributing to spiritual care in healthcare which includes those trained specifically in spiritual and pastoral care to those providing treatment and support services,” she said.

“In Bendigo, one of the remarkable things we saw was the atmosphere of caring for the whole person, including their spirit, being part of the organisational culture.

“This was particularly reflected in the experience of patients in being treated as a person, not just an illness, and in building relationships.”

The study found 10 key results that contributed to this spiritual care, which is defined as providing a supportive, compassionate presence for people at significant times of transition, illness, grief or loss.

St John of God Health Care Group Manager Pastoral Services Eleanor Roderick said the results reinforced and demonstrated the importance of providing compassionate care and respect for the dignity of each person whether patient, client, carer, family, or caregiver.

“This model of care has its foundations in the theological model of accompaniment of all those whose paths cross our own,” she said.

The research will be used by Spiritual Health Victoria to develop evidence based spiritual care practice.