Ask, Consider, Think – the importance of spiritual care - a personal view by Carol Wilson
Carol Wilson, Head of Spiritual Care with Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (BSMHFT). Carol leads a team of spiritual care practitioners and chaplains providing care to anyone connected to the Trust.
“Oh but I’m not religious …” Faith and belief are tremendously important for many people but what about those who don’t consider themselves to have a faith or who would say they’re not religious? Some people have a cultural association with a particular faith, without necessarily playing an active role; others believe that there is nothing to relate to beyond other human beings.
So what is spirituality … if it’s not just about religion? Perhaps it is easiest to think in terms of spirituality that arises from within ourselves as compared to religion that we learn from others. Spirituality includes the search for meaning, value, purpose and inspiration which is part of who we are as human beings. Some people will find this through a faith, others through their culture or traditions; often it will be a mixture. In addition, we all have something like music, poetry, art, drama, our relationships or enjoying nature; literally, that which lifts our spirits.
We all need ways of finding strength and encouragement … especially when life events cause us pain, whether that be physical, emotional or spiritual. The importance of spiritual care at the end of life is recognised and is now a mandatory part of planning care for those known to be dying. For healthcare staff, families and carers, it can prevent burnout and relieve stress. Just as important, is the fact that understanding what works for us, helps us celebrate the times of joy in our lives too.