EOFY sale on now! Apply Coupon: EOFY2021 at checkout and receive 30% off!

As part of National Palliative Care Week 2017, Meaningful Ageing Australia and Palliative Care Australia released a joint position statement about the importance of spiritual care in palliative and end of life care.

Palliative Care Australia and Meaningful Ageing Australia affirm that:

Spiritual care is an integral part of palliative care.

A palliative approach includes spiritual assessment, and the involvement of appropriately trained staff.

There are gaps in understanding about spirituality and spiritual care across the community, including amongst aged care staff and organisational leaders.

Further education and specific funding is needed, for spiritual care practitioners to function as part of the team in the palliative approach.

Religious and spiritual beliefs can affect decision-making about treatment, medicine and self-care as well as expectations of, and relationships, with health and aged care service providers.

Individualised spirituality-based interventions can lead to lower depression scores and reduced anxiety.

Cross-disciplinary palliative care is required to address psychosocial and spiritual needs at end-of-life in long-term care settings.

Palliative Care Australia and Meaningful Ageing Australia call for:

All aged care organisations to recognise the importance of spirituality and spiritual care for people, particularly those receiving end-of-life and palliative care, and respond appropriately to these needs.

Aged care funding models to include specialised spiritual care support.

Aged care workforce development to recognise spiritual need, particularly for those receiving end-of-life and palliative care, and improve capability to provide basic spiritual care.

Consistent spiritual screening and assessment of all people in aged care, particularly at the point of commencing end-of-life and palliative care.

Australian aged care standards to reflect the importance of meaning, purpose and connectedness for people receiving aged care, as described in the National Guidelines for Spiritual Care in Aged Care.

Read the full statement here

Position Statement References:

Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing. Guidelines for a Palliative Approach in Residential Aged Care Enhanced Version. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia, 2006.
Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing. Guidelines for a Palliative Approach for Aged Care in the Community Setting. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia, 2011.
Bai, Mei, and Mark Lazenby, “A Systematic Review of Associations Between Spiritual Well-Being and Quality of Life at the Scale and Factor Levels in Studies among Patients with Cancer”, Journal of Palliative Medicine 18, no.3 (2015): 286-98.
Balboni, Tracy Ann, Mary Elizabeth Paulk, Michael J Balboni, Andrea C Phelps, Elizabeth Trice Loggers Alexi A Wright, Susan D Block, Eldrin F Lewis, John R Peteet, and Holly Gwen  Prigerson, “Provision of spiritual care to patients with advanced cancer: associations with medical care and quality of life near death”, Journal of Clinical Oncology 28, no. 3, (2010): 445-52.
Campbell, James D, Dong Phil Yoon, and Brick Johnson , “Determining Relationships Between Physical Health and Spiritual Experience, Religious Practices, and Congregational Support in a Heterogeneous Medical Sample”, Journal of Religion and Health, 49 no.1 (March 2010):3-17.
Chaudhury, Habib, Gloria Puurveen, and Jennifer Lyle, “Place matters: An exploration of the role of physical environment in end of life care.” In Living with Ageing and Dying: Palliative and End of Life Care for Older People, edited by  Merryn Gott and Christine Ingleton, 204-214. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011.
Christina Puchalski et al., “Improving the Quality of Spiritual Care as a Dimension of Palliative Care: The Report of the Consensus Conference” Journal of Palliative Medicine 12, no. 10, (2009).
Cohen, S Robin, Balfour M Mount, Michael G Strobel, and France Bui, “The McGill Quality of Life Questionnaire: a measure of quality of life appropriate for people with advanced disease. A preliminary study of validity and acceptability”, Palliative Medicine 9, no 3 (July 2016): 207-219.
Confoy, Maryanne “The Contemporary Search for Meaning in Suffering.” In Spirituality and Palliative Care: Social and Pastoral Perspectives, ed. Bruce Rumbold, (South Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 2002).
Cowlishaw, Sean, Sylvia Niele, Karen Teshuva, Collette Browning, and Hal Kendig, “Older Adults’ Spirituality and Life Satisfaction: a Longitudinal Test of Social Support and Sense of Coherence as Mediating Mechanisms.” Ageing and Society 33, no. 7 (2013): 1243–62.
Delaney, Colleen, Cynthia Barrere, and Mary Helming, “The Influence of a Spirituality-Based Intervention on Quality of Life, Depression, and Anxiety in Community-Dwelling Adults with Cardiovascular Disease: a Pilot Study”, Journal of Holistic Nursing, 29, no. 1 (2011): 21-32.
Douglas, Sara L, and Barbara J Daly,” The impact of patient quality of life and spirituality upon caregiver depression for those with advanced cancer”, Palliative Support Care 11, no.5 (2013): 389-96.
D’Souza, Russell, “The Importance of Spirituality in Medicine and its Application to Clinical Practice”, Medical Journal of Australia, 186, no. 10, (2007): S57-S59.
Eckersley, R ”Culture, Religion, Spirituality and Health: looking at the big picture”, Medical Journal of Australia, 186, no. 10 (2007): S54-S56.
Fleming, Richard, “Depression and spirituality in Australian Aged Care homes. Mental Health and Spirituality in Later Life” ed Elizabeth MacKinlay (Binghamton: The Haworth Pastoral Press, 2002), 107-116.
George, Linda K, David B Larson, Harold G Koenig, and Michael McCullough, “Spirituality and Health: What We Know, What We need to Know”, Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 19, no. 1 (2000):102 – 116.
Hanson, Laura, Debra Dobbs, Barbara Usher, Sharon Williams, Jim Rawlings, and Timothy Daaleman, ”Providers and Types of Spiritual Care during Serious Illness” Journal Of Palliative Medicine, 11, no. 6 (July 2008): 907-914.
Hebert, Randy S, Mollie W Jenckes, Daniel E Ford, Debra R O’Connor, and Lisa A Cooper, “Patient Perspectives on Spirituality and the Patient-physician Relationship”, Journal of General Internal Medicine, 16, no.10 (2001): 685-692.
Higginbotham, Ashley R, and Todd Marcy, “Spiritual assessment: A new outlook on the pharmacist’s role”, American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy, 63 (2006):169-173.
Hilton, Jeanne M, and Stephen L Child, “Spirituality and the Successful Aging of Older Latinos”, Counselling & Values 54, no. 1 (2014): 17-34.
Jeffrey R Johnson et al., “The association of spiritual care providers’ activities with family members’ satisfaction with care after a death in the ICU” Critical Care Medicine, 42, no. 9 (2014): 1991-2000.
Johnson, Mark, “Faith, Prayer and Religious Observances: Diversity in Medicine”, Clinical Cornerstone, 6, no. 1 (2004): 17-24.
Kaldor, Peter, Philip Hughes, Keith Castle, and John Bellamy, Spirituality and Wellbeing in Australia Occasional Paper No. 6 (Sydney: NCLS Research, 2004).
Karen M Detering, Andrew D Hancock, Michael C Reade, and William Silvester, “The Impact of Advance Care Planning on End of Life Care in Elderly Patients: Randomised Controlled Trial” BMJ, BMJ (2010); 340.
Keall, Robyn M, Phyllis Butow, Karen Steinhauser, and Josephine Clayton, “Nurse-Facilitated Preparation and Life Completion Interventions are Acceptable and Feasible in the Australian Palliative Care Setting: Results From a Phase 2 Trial” Cancer Nursing, 36, no. 3, (2013): E39-E46.
Koenig, Harold, ”Religion, spirituality and medicine in Australia: Research and Clinical Practice”, Medical Journal of Australia, 186, no 10 (2007): S45-S50.
Koslander, Tiburtius, and Barbro Arvidsson, “Patients’ Conceptions of How the Spiritual Dimension is Addressed in Mental Health Care: a Qualitative Study’, Journal of Advanced Nursing, 57, no. 6 (2007): 597–604.
Larson, David B and Susan B Larson, “Spirituality’s Potential Relevance to Physical and Emotional Health: A Brief Review of Quantitative Research”, Journal of Psychology and Theology 31, no.1 (Spring 2003): 37-51.
Larson, James S, “The Conceptualization of Health”, Medical Care Research and Review, 56, no. 2 (1999):123-136.
MacKinlay, Elizabeth et all Music and Pastoral Care: Minimising the impact of depression and dementia for Elders  (Barton: CAPS, 2014).
MacKinlay, Elizabeth, Palliative Care, Ageing and Spirituality: A Guide for Older People, Carers and Families. (London: Jessica Kingsley Publishing, 2012).
Meaningful Ageing Australia, National Guidelines for Spiritual Care in Aged Care (Parkville: Meaningful Ageing Australia, 2016).
Meaningful Ageing, “Definitions”, accessed 21 April 2017 https://meaningfulageing.org.au/definitions.
Mueller, Paul S,  David J Plevak, and Teresa A Rummans, ” Religious involvement, spirituality and medicine: implications for clinical practice” Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 76 (2001): 1225-1235.
Mundle, Robert, “’Strong men don’t cry, but I’m not strong anymore’: A case study of bodily engagement with stories of loss and grief in palliative care” Illness, Crisis & Loss, 22, no. 4 (2014): 285-292.
Narayanasamy, Aru, and Jan Owens, “A critical incident study of nurses’ responses to the spiritual needs of their patients” Journal of Advanced Nursing 33, no.4 (February 2001): 446 – 455.
Nichols, SW, Examining the impact of spiritual care in long-term care. Omega (Westport), No. 67, Vol. 1-2 (2013):175-84.

Oh, Pok-Ja, and Young-Hyun Kim, “Meta-Analysis of Spiritual Intervention Studies on Biological, Psychological, and Spiritual Outcomes” Journal of  Korean Academy of Nursing, 42, no. 6 (2012): 833-842.

Palliative Care Australia, “Glossary of Terms” in Palliative and End of Life Care, (Canberra: PCA, 2008).
Pilger, Caliope, Jaqueline Queiroz de Macedo, Renata Zanelatto, Leticia Gramazio Soares, and Luciana Kusumota, “Perception of nursing team of an intensive care unit about spirituality and religiousness” [Portuguese] Ciencia, Cuidado e Saude, 13, no. 3 (2014): 479-486.
Pringle, Erin, National Guidelines for Spiritual Care in Aged Care Stakeholders Consultation Report (Parkville: Meaningful Ageing Australia, 2016).
Rumbold, Bruce D, “A Review of Spiritual Assessment in health care practice” Medical Journal of Australia, 186, no.10, (2007): S60-S62.
Saxena, Shekhar, Kathryn O’Connell, and Lynn Underwood, “A Commentary: Cross-Cultural Quality-of-Life Assessment at the End of Life” Gerotologist 42, no.3 (2002): 81-85.
von Humboldt, Sofia, Isabel Lead, and Filipa Pimenta, “What Predicts Older Adults’ Adjustment to Aging in Later Life? The Impact of Sense of Coherence, Subjective Well-Being, and Sociodemographic, Lifestyle, and Health-Related Factors”, Educational Gerontology 40, no. 9 (2014): 641 – 654.
White, John, “Spiritual and Pastoral Care Approaches for Helping Older Adults with Depression”, Journal of Religious Gerontology, 16, no. 3-4, (2004): 91-107.
Williams, David R, and Michelle J Sternthal, “Spirituality, Religion and Health: evidence and research directions”, Medical Journal of Australia, 186, no. 10 (2007): S47-S50.
World Health Organization, retrieved April 19, 2017, http://www.who.int/cancer/palliative/definition/en/