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Spirituality and Caregiving

Is there a place for spirituality in the health care system? The vast majority of authorities that are involved with this system report an extremely low level of spirituality shown by the caregiving personnel. The patients on the other hand often turn to religion when they suffer from serious diseases. In this situation patients are forced to explore their own spirituality themselves. Should the caregivers be encouraged to take a more spiritual approach when performing their duties?

Spiritual support can be very important to terminally ill patients, because it helps them to cope with the inevitable fear of the condition they suffer from. It is impossible to imagine what a person who clearly knows their days are numbered feels like. Therefore, denying them the relief they find while embracing spirituality is cruel and unreasonable. Their caregivers, however, often shy away from the religious teachings due to the specifics of their work. People working in the health care system have to be practical and use an evidence based approach towards everything. This is not conductive to embracing the spiritual beliefs and values. Technology and science play a major part in medicine today, and they leave very little room to religion. This is why it is usually the patients and their families who come to the chapels located on hospital grounds. This practical way of thinking as well as witnessing numerous personal tragedies on an almost everyday basis are the reasons that explain why caregivers are mostly incapable of providing their patients with spiritual guidance.

They should not be forced to change their approach, for this will interfere with their ability to do their job properly. Closing up their hearts to the spiritual world is a coping mechanism that allows many caregivers to come to work every day and see a person they have become close to suffer and eventually pass away. Being practical helps people see this as a misfortune that has solid medical reasons behind it, instead of it being a divine intervention of some kind. In the latter case, a person can start to question their faith and end up losing it completely.

One must also remember that not all patients are seeking relief through embracing spirituality. Therefore, having a religious caregiver can be an annoyance to them. On the other hand, a caregiver who neither supports, nor disproves their patient’s beliefs is a neutral option that can satisfy anyone.

Caregivers are professionals who should focus on doing the very important job assigned to them. If their patients require spiritual guidance, they should seek it from priests, not from the health care personnel.

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