National Guidelines for Spiritual Care in Aged Care

By: Amy Heath  

Spirituality has been studied as a critical part of health for many years, evident by many literature reviews in the past 10-15 years, showing that research into this area has increased significantly (Pesut et al 2014; Sinclair et al 2006). The World Health Organisation (WHO) included spiritual components of health assessment as a priority for health professionals working with those aged over 60 in their 2015 report on World Health on Ageing and Health (WHO, 2015). Much research ties definitions of spirituality to holistic and person-centred models of care (Drury & Hunter, 2016; Keall et al, 2013; Power 2006; Boston & Mount, 2001). All of these factors, as well as the rapidly ageing population trends evident worldwide, suggest that spirituality is not only gaining traction and understanding in health care systems, it also is a requirement of any individual facing the last stages of life. “The intent (of the guidelines and their development) was to identify existing spiritual care practices, as well as the barriers and enabling factors that influence spiritual care” (Pringle, 2016). This research utilises thematic analysis to understand the barriers and enablers to providing spiritual care as part of holistic care in aged care settings, and identify what role the National Guidelines for Spiritual Care in Aged Care have added to this crucial domain of health care provision in an Australian setting.

Spirituality, Aged Care, Support, Holistic Care, Organisational management
Social and Cultural Perspectives on Aging
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Miss Amy Heath

PhD Candidate, Public Health, La Trobe University, Australia

Amy Heath is a PhD candidate with La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia. Amy's research focus is the growth of Spiritual Care in an ageing population. Through her study on impact of the National Guidelines for Spiritual Care in Aged Care, she has been able to meet many of those working in the aged care sector to discover the means by which people create meaningful relationships and improve health and wellness for older people. During the past 5 years, Amy has undertaken an academic teaching role with La Trobe, bridging her passion for rehabilitation counseling and research into the School of Psychology and Public Health program. Amy has worked with both undergraduate and postgraduate students undertaking studies in the areas of public health, bioethics, socio-cultural perspectives of health and wellbeing, as well as case management and counseling focussed practise. Amy sees the growth of spiritual care as a critical factor in providing more holistic and person-centred care in the future and finds the practise of talking to people to learn from their experience ultimately the most rewarding work she is involved in. Her collaboration with Meaningful Ageing Australia in 2016 has solidified the enthusiasm she has for finding ways to help older people make connections and have sustained purpose in their lives. Personally, Amy enjoys spending time with her family and going to watch Australian Rules football. She is a lifelong Western Bulldogs fan and her happiest moment so far is the day her team won the premiership. She lives in Melbourne with her partner, Steve and their dog-son, cheeky border collie, Clyde.