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What's spirituality have to do with your care?

Sunday, December 1 2013 4:37 AM

Maybe you or a loved one have been asked about your spirituality during a healthcare visit. And maybe you’ve wondered what difference it could make.

It’s important to understand that our individual spirituality is fundamental to who we are. Consequently, it’s fundamental in the relationship between us and our healthcare providers. It’s so fundamental, that providers cannot adequately address the full spectrum of our concerns without deliberate efforts to understand our spiritual needs, background and resources.

In today’s healthcare environment, doctors, hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, senior living communities, home- and community-based services—all caregivers—are working toward more integrated care. The goal is for them all to work together to provide the best possible services for each patient.

They provide person-centered care in which they seek the active involvement of patients and their families in the design of and decision-making related to their care. Person-centered care, however, doesn’t take the model far enough. 

Care providers should seek a deep understanding of each person, so they can best serve the mind, body and soul. That’s holistic care—care of the whole person—and will get us closer to delivering care or service at the time, in the place and in the way that is most meaningful to each individual.

So, as you encounter healthcare providers, you should rightfully expect to be asked questions related to your spirituality and faith. A spiritual assessment is just as important as a clinical assessment, medical history, social history, environmental assessment and other tools. It helps paint a picture of you as a whole person so that care, services and interventions can be designed with you specifically in mind.


What kind of spiritual questions are important? The kind that best inform the design of care, services and interventions are clearly most important. These, for example, are drawn from the George Washington Institute for Spirituality and Health:

  • Do you consider yourself spiritual or religious?
  • Do you have spiritual beliefs that help you cope with stress?
  • What importance does your faith have in your life?
  • Are you part of a religious or spiritual community?
  • Is a religious or spiritual community a source of support for you? How?
  • How would you like me, as your healthcare provider, to address these matters in your care?


These, or similar, questions are good for all of us to ponder and reflect on in the quiet of our own hearts. But they’re equally important for our healthcare providers to be asking. How they interact with us and how they design our care and services depends on our answers.

By Bill Kubat, MS
Director of Mission Integration
Source: www.good-sam.com

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