ConnecTo is a flexible spiritual screening tool for use in a range of settings including residential aged care, community care and palliative care. It was developed by Dr Julie Fletcher during her PhD research. It was recently adapted by Meaningful Ageing Australia, and trialled in four aged care organisations (NSW, Vic, QLD and WA).
Feedback from trial participants has demonstrated the flexibility of the tool, with staff members using the tool at various points along the older person’s journey in residential aged care, including pre-admission, during the first week of admission, and longer term. Staff including lifestyle/diversional therapy, nursing, pastoral/spiritual care and assessment were trained in the use of the tool.
The ConnecTo spiritual screening tool acknowledges that spirituality is not just about religion, and that spirituality is expressed through connectedness in five domains. ConnecTo invites older people to reflect on their connection with themselves, with others, with nature, with creativity, and with ‘something bigger’. For some people, connecting with these domains may be through religion.
The language of ConnecTo is easily accessible, assisting staff who have an introductory level of spiritual care training to engage with spirituality. As a referral tool, the visual map provides a clear indication of the particular needs of the older person. “During our trial, we found that ConnecTo provides a quicker response to referral than our existing verbal or email model. ConnecTo is so easy to read. For example, we had a woman move in and a ConnecTo conversation happened in the morning. The admissions coordinator noted next to the ‘Creativity’ circle, “Mabel loves music”. That very afternoon Mabel was connected to a visiting music group performance. We could do that because we knew what she liked” (Pastoral Care Nurse).
It is appropriate for use with people with cognitive impairment, as a guide for conversations with proxies (for example, family members or interpreters), and as a self-reflection tool for staff who are learning about spirituality and spiritual care. “By understanding my own connections and the importance they have for me as an individual, I can know, understand and value the importance of spirituality for others” (ConnecTo Training Participant). Further, it can be used in informal conversation with older adults during day to day tasks to deepen ongoing relationships.
To be trained in ConnecTo requires a minimum prerequisite of a spiritual care orientation program (Meaningful Ageing Australia has an orientation program available to our members). Members of Meaningful Ageing Australia can access copies of the ‘ConnecTo Leader’s Guide’ at no extra charge. Order your copy here.