Staff empowered to engage with spirituality through e-modules initiative

Entering a conversation about spirituality may feel uncomfortable and daunting for people working in aged care.

Some may fear they lack the knowledge to discuss spirituality, or worry that they could say the wrong thing or offend the person they are caring for.  Meaningful Ageing Australia believes these fears are not uncommon and can be overcome.

An online resource developed by Meaningful Ageing Australia, responding to requests from member organisations, is designed to help people working in aged care learn about how to talk about spirituality with people accessing aged care.

It covers topics including understanding spirituality and an introduction to spiritual care. The e-modules reinforce key concepts to begin the conversation about spirituality as more than religion.

Meaningful Ageing Australia developed the e-modules in consultation with five member organisations. Nine member organisations across Australia have trialled the e-modules with staff in a wide range of roles including: lifestyle and leisure, area managers, personal care, administration, and allied health.

Respondents in the trial talked about realising that they had something to contribute to spiritual care.  ‘We have had strong positive feedback from members about this initiative. It is perfectly timed to assist organisations with the new Aged Care Quality Standards. Participants in the trial commented that it made them stop and think about how others feel, that they realised spirituality was more than religion, the importance of connecting and that everyone has a spirituality.’

‘Whilst we support the implementation of e-modules they should not completely replace face to face learning in spirituality, given the intensely interpersonal nature of spiritual care.’

It takes up to 30 minutes to compete each e-module and abridged versions are available to cater for staff in a range of roles.  Members in the reference group included Arcare, Bethanie, Uniting, Lutheran Aged Care Albury and Churches of Christ Qld. Additional trial organisations included Calvary Community Care, ECH, Lyndoch Living and Scalabrini.

Meaningful Ageing Australia is a membership based not for profit and the peak body for spiritual care and ageing. Our main activities are the creation of high quality, practical resources, education services and advocacy with government and key agencies.