Spiritual Care Week 2021 – Advancing Spiritual Care Through Research

Spiritual Care Week 2021 - Advancing Spiritual Care Through ResearchThe week of October 24-30, 2021 represents 36 years of celebrating Spiritual Care Week. Spiritual care has a wonderful history of cultures and religions which engage with a continuum of healthcare providers in supporting patients and families. This year’s theme emphasizes collaboration with a focus on chaplains providing spiritual care in ways that affirm and value their contribution as well as foster an appreciation for what is considered important for holistic care.


Spiritual Care Week is a time of both celebration and education. Organizations and institutions throughout the world will recognize spiritual care providers as well as the spiritual care given through professional chaplaincy and pastoral counseling within our communities. The theme, “Collaborative Healthcare: Chaplains Complete the Picture” encourages professionals and constituents across the healthcare continuum to view the work of chaplains as part of an image that conveys inclusive healthcare practices among spiritual care practitioners. Chaplains are viewed through a lens whereby they collaborate to provide holistic interdisciplinary care, which otherwise would not be complete if the chaplain were not included.

Spiritual care has a wonderful history of cultures and religions which engage with a continuum of healthcare providers in supporting patients and families. This year’s theme emphasizes collaboration with a focus on chaplains providing spiritual care in ways that affirm and value their contribution as well as foster an appreciation for what is considered important for holistic care. This lens serves as a focal point to capture what is considered important and conceptualizes messages or thoughts as images for later reflection. Chaplains should be within the frame of focus for healthcare professionals, patients, and families who directly benefit from their presence and spiritual care services.

When chaplains are serving as part of an interdisciplinary team they are visible and regarded as an integral part of patient care. It is during these experiences, scope of practices, and interactions that the chaplain becomes one of the central subjects of focus for best practices and optimal care. They are within the lens, within focus, and demonstrate relevance as they give meaning to their trade as a chaplain.

Meaning and purpose are used often as spiritual definitions for chaplains and spiritual care providers. Chaplains and spiritual care providers have often defined their roles as a ministry of presence. Today chaplains and spiritual care providers exist in a data-driven and evidence-based world, particularly for those who work in health settings. Thus, the need to provide empirical evidence related to the care provided by chaplains and spiritual care providers. The needed evidence may be gained through qualitative and quantitative research methods.

Chaplains and spiritual care providers enjoy collaboration with peers around the care of patients. Collaboration is a necessity when juxtaposing chaplaincy work and research. Collaboration is more two-way/mutual in that the chaplain needs to both communicate AND listen based on evidence-based research. Research that informs chaplains and spiritual care providers about navigating institutional systems and preferred standards of professionalism within the healthcare continuum for patient-centered care becomes the model for chaplains and spiritual care providers as they offer care. Research can also better equip the chaplain to define their roles in the data-driven and evidence-based world by providing measurable goals.

Research becomes the catalyst to make the subjective objective, the invisible visible, the intangible tangible and also fosters appreciation and legitimacy from those who do not reside in the role of chaplaincy work. Research needs to be systematic as a tool to establish common ground on which chaplains and spiritual care providers and the industry agree. Research allows chaplains and spiritual care providers to be more efficient and strategic, creating leverage and advocacy towards the sustainability of the profession. Research will provide a guideline to train chaplains and spiritual care providers to incorporate better practices in whatever setting they serve.

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Advancing Spiritual Care Through Research

 


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