Palliative Care NSW Volunteer Support Services Programme
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Spirituality and volunteers: reporting from the Hospice NZ Conference

What is spirituality? What skills do volunteers need in order to be good at spirituality?

Clinicians and volunteers alike often feel compelled to do something to demonstrate care toward the person in palliative care, but palliative care emphasises the need to be available in a compassionate human way. This is identified as an important part of spiritual care, and an essential element of the holistic palliative care approach.

In their 2012 paper Spiritual care: how to do it Sinclair and others* proposed a simple skill set as being essential for anyone working in spiritual care: hearing, sight, speech, touch and presence. What they were saying is that the task of spiritual care is the task of being with and being available to another human being.

Carlo Leget, professor in Care Ethics at the University of Humanistic Studies in Utrecht, echoed these same sentiments recently at recent Hospice NZ Conference in Auckland on spirituality, saying:

Maybe one of the most important instruments we have in spiritual care is ourselves, because in the end I think spirituality is something that is in the patient, in the family and spiritual care is the art of listening in such a way that the strength and the power in the person is revitalised, and this is the art that we can all learn when we start learning our own spirituality.

VolunteerHub contributor Linda Hansen represented the Volunteer Support Services Programme at the Hospice NZ Conference in September 2016.


* Shane Sinclair, Shelley Raffin Bouchal, Harvey Chochinov, Neil Hagen & Susan McClement (2012) Spiritual Care: How to do it, British Medical Journal of Supportive & Palliative Care, 2012;2:319-327 doi:10.1136/bmjspcare-2011-000191

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