RVNAhealth Today: What is Spiritual Care?

Here is the latest column from the home health care agency RVNAhealth in Ridgefield. The column is written by RVNAhealth's President and CEO Theresa Santoro, (not pictured). This column is about spiritual care.

Here is the latest column from the home health care agency RVNAhealth in Ridgefield. The column is written by RVNAhealth's President and CEO Theresa Santoro, (not pictured). This column is about spiritual care.

RVNAhealth / Contributed photo

As part of National Hospice and Palliative Care Month, RVNAhealth celebrates the work of our multi-disciplinary Hospice team. Hospice is a service that helps keep those diagnosed with a life-limiting condition and prognosis of six months or less - and their loved ones - as comfortable and peaceful as possible in the patient’s final stages of life. In addition to expert medical professionals, our Hospice team consists of social workers, care managers, musical therapists, bereavement and spiritual care experts, and volunteers. Today, we explore the role of spiritual care.

Fundamentally, spiritual care is not about a religious affiliation - it’s about where you find meaning and purpose in life. Under Medicare guidelines, pastoral care is a required hospice discipline. Spiritual care coordinators must meet hospice patients and their families during the first five days of care. After that, patients have the right to decline spiritual care at any time.

Spiritual care interactions focus on three major themes: meaning making, spiritual ‘pain,’ and grief processing. Meaning making refers to the consideration of life’s most meaningful moments -- What do you hope your legacy will be? Would you like your family and friends present when you die? Spiritual pain is the pain that comes from the “hidden” areas of our lives, and can cause emotional distress, agitation, and even physical pain. Grief processing is working in conjunction with bereavement and spiritual care coordinators to help patients and their families process grief about their illness.

RVNAhealth Spiritual Coordinator, Carolyn Legg, describes her role as, “Allowing the patient to put a voice to their inner beliefs--it is a conversation, never control. I allow the patient to pose their questions and guide them to find their own answers. I provide presence, compassion, and hopefulness.”

For more information on RVNAhealth’s Hospice programs, please visit RVNAhealth.org.