Why is Spiritual Support Important at End-of-Life?

August 20, 2021 Palliative care

Why is Spiritual Support Important at End-of-Life?

Why is spiritual support important at End-of-Life?

Spiritual support is important at end-of-life for many reasons. Being diagnosed with a terminal illness often causes loved ones to think about death, loss and grief, in ways that haven’t had to before.

Spiritual support helps loved ones approaching the end of life and those close to them including their relatives and friends, too:

  • explore how they might understand, make sense of or find meaning in what is happening to them
  • identify sources of strength they can draw on, and
  • decide whether those sources are helpful during this period in their lives.

Spiritual support doesn’t have to be structured but the expectation is that it would also include assessment and provision of resources to support the person approaching the end of life and those close to them. Spiritual support is tailored to the needs, beliefs and values of the person approaching the end of life. Families and relationships tend to be an important influence on spiritual wellbeing, and much support can be provided from within the family or by close friends.

What is spirituality?

According to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, spirituality is defined as ‘those beliefs, values and practices that relate to the human search for meaning in life. For some people, spirituality is expressed through adherence to organised religion, while for others it may relate to their identities, relationships with others, secular ethical values or humanist philosophies’.

What are spiritual needs?

Spiritual needs can include:

  • the want for meaning and purpose in our lives
  • the demand to love and feel loved
  • the need to feel a sense of belonging
  • the need to feel hope, peace and gratitude.

People do different things to meet these spiritual needs, depending on what’s important to them. Some people do things within their religion such as prayer or going to a religious meeting.   For other people, it could be being with friends and family, spending time in nature or doing work or hobbies.

What’s most important to someone can change over their lifetime.

How could you assess someone’s spiritual needs?

Encourage your loved ones to talk about how they’re feeling. Someone might have unmet spiritual needs if they are:

  • searching for meaning, for example asking questions such as ‘Why is this happening?’, ‘Why me?’, ‘Who am I?’ and ‘How will I be remembered?’
  • becoming more withdrawn and isolated
  • afraid of being alone
  • refusing care
  • saying they feel scared or worried.

There are assessment tools you can use to start the conversation. One of these is the HOPE tool which is based on the questions below:

  • What are your sources of hope, strength, comfort and peace?
Organised religion
  • Do you have a religion or faith?
  • How important is your faith religion or faith to you?
Personal spirituality and practices
  • What do you do that gives you a sense of meaning and purpose in life
  • In what ways does this add to your sense of identity?
Effects on medical care and of life issues
  • Has being unwell stopped you from doing things that give your life meaning and purpose?
  • Are there any specific practices we should know about in providing for your care?

If you feel unsure about what spirituality means, or you find it difficult to talk about it, you might find it helpful to assess yourself. It can help you to identify and explore your thoughts on spirituality at end-of-life.

How can Cavendish Homecare help?

At Cavendish Homecare we are experts in providing Palliative Homecare for individuals with terminal illnesses who want to return or remain in their own homes. We understand that at such a stressful and sensitive time, specialist nursing care and trustworthy support can make a huge difference. We work to support the patients, their families, friends, district nurses, palliative teams and any spiritual needs to support your Palliative care.

To discuss our Palliative Care further call us on 020 3008 5210 or email us at info@cavendishhomecare.com.