My heart sings : learning about spirituality in palliative care
Holistic health care recognises that body, mind and spirit operate as an integrated whole yet spirituality remains a neglected element of total health care. A co-operative inquiry group, comprising staff from two cancer care centres, met for one year to explore spirituality. The aim of the inquiry was to explore participants' own spirituality with a view to how that affected their work. The eight health care professionals involved in the co-operative inquiry brought varied religious and non- religious perspectives as well as different professional roles. A church based journey into faith group also contributed to the research. A significant outcome of the co- operative inquiry group was the development of a continuing professional education module for health care staff about spiritual care. Although spirituality is a word used increasingly today, there seems little clarity about the concept. Confusion between spirituality and religion aggravates this lack of clarity. Significant influences in the development of the post modern, western world have marginalised the spiritual to the extent that it can be argued that people have lost a cohesive voice with which to discuss spirituality. For those contributing to this research, the experience of talking about spirituality with others in a safe but challenging environment was both enlightening and encouraging. From this experience emerged a greater clarity about spirituality which influenced both personal and professional experience. Clearer understanding led to greater confidence, enabling individuals from different professions to become more effectively involved in spiritual assessment and spiritual care. Continuing professional education about spirituality, particularly involving reflection on experience, offers an opportunity to extend this work to others.