My definition of spiritual care is being there for my patients beyond their physical needs, to care for their whole person, not only their physical body. It includes listening to their struggles, worries, or concerns they might feel the need to share as well as coordinating a chaplain and respecting their own religious or personal beliefs.
My definition is similar to the one offered in the readings in that it involves caring for the whole person: listening, praying, being present, etc. (Meilaender, 2013).
My definition differs from the description given by Meilaender in a couple ways. One, I left out that it is an integral piece of the assessment, which Meilaender states at the beginning of the discussion on spiritual care. It is not something that should only occur when we “have time”, and it should not need to be private or undocumented either (Meilaender, 2013).
Meilaender (2013) also defines spiritual care as, “facilitating a person’s relationship with God through Jesus Christ.” (p.264). It also included that spiritual care is a way of bringing people closer to God through compassion, listening, prayer, etc. This is not something that I included in my definition.
I very much appreciated that Meilaender (2013) included that spiritual care is never rude or coercive, and if patients have other belief systems, that we must be respectful of their preferences. I believe this is very important also because judging people generally tends to push them away and make them disconnect from the person passing judgment as opposed to make them feel loved and comfortable.
From a nursing perspective, spiritual care is meeting the spiritual need(s) of your patient whenever it is required. This can be accomplished through active listening, prayer, or offering of religious services (i.e. chaplain). My definition and understanding of spiritual care is similar to the description offered in the topic readings. According to Shelly and Miller (2009), spiritual care is defined as “putting people in touch with God through compassionate presence, active listening, witness, prayer, Bible reading and partnering with the body of Christ (the church community and the clergy). It is never coercive or rude” (p. 265).
Compassionate presence is described as providing assistance at the moment it is needed and constantly nudging patients toward the goals that God has for them (Shelly & Miller, 2009, p. 265). “Active listening includes hearing what a person is not saying as well as the actual thoughts and feelings articulated” (Shelly & Miller, 2009, p. 266). Witness involves sharing a story or providing scripture that may be helpful toward patient healing. It is important to remember that “our witness should not be self-righteous or manipulative, but it can be bold” (Shelly & Miller, 2009, p. 268). Prayer is communicating with God in whichever manner the patient feels is helpful. Bible reading allows the patient to search for scripture that “can be a deep source of comfort and strength to the believer” (Shelly & Miller, 2009, p. 271). Remaining in touch with the church community and the clergy allows the patient to have a larger support base and helps the nurse further meet their patient’s spiritual needs.