At our 2019 Annual Conference, Wilfred McSherry, a Professor of Nursing and founding member of the British Association for the Study of Spirituality, spoke passionately about spirituality being a fundamental part of dignity and how this was central to high-quality care.
In November 2020 the ANMF (SA Branch) embarked on a partnership project with Professor McSherry and his team to explore the beliefs of South Australian nurses, midwives and carers about spirituality and spiritual care.
Participation in the survey was voluntary and all responses were anonymous. Participants were given the option to not answer any question and stop completing the survey at any point, but answers to that point would be included in the analysis.
1,281 people responded to the online survey with the majority working within hospitals. For the completed responses 692 worked within the metro area and 230 in regional and rural areas, with 99 respondents not completing the survey.
Members considered spirituality to be a broad umbrella term that was not just associated with religious belief and practice and there was a strong recognition of addressing this aspect of people’s lives, with some respondents suggesting that engaging with this dimension added to the overall quality of care. Responses to the Spirituality and Spiritual Care Rating Scale (SSCRS) further supported the broad notion of spirituality as being a unifying force and having a sense of hope in life.
Participants in the ANMF (SA Branch) survey held a very broad and inclusive understanding of spirituality, recognising that it is a very subjective and individual concept and emphasising that there is not a ‘one size fits all approach’. Nurses, midwives, and personal care workers acknowledged this dimension to be a fundamental aspect of their care.
The findings demonstrate that members are very much aware of the importance and relevance of spirituality and spiritual care to the wellbeing of their patients and are actively engaged in supporting this dimension of the person.
There was also strong agreement that nurses can have a proactive role to provide effective spiritual care by promoting privacy, dignity, and respect for religious and cultural beliefs, and having the time to listen to and allow patients to discuss and explore pertinent aspects of their lives.
The ANMF (SA Branch) are continuing to work with Prof McSherry and his team and are looking at the key recommendations from the survey results:
- Establish a Task and Finish Group to review the implications of the findings and develop a spiritual care education strategy to address points raised by members.
- Utilise the EPICC Spiritual Care Education Standard as a framework for the delivery and development of the spiritual care education strategy.
- ANMF Australia should undertake a national survey to ascertain members perceptions and thoughts to advance best practice in spiritual care education for its members.
- ANMF (SA Branch) could consider replicating this survey with different patient groups to capture patients’ voices and needs around spiritual care.
Please click here to view the survey
To find out more about Professor McSherry’s work visit the EPICC website