Doctors and health professionals acknowledge that a patient’s attitude of mind and feelings play an important part in the process of healing.
The provision of care should therefore be concerned not simply with the physical aspects (drugs, diagnostic investigations, surgery, x-ray, blood pressure monitoring etc) but also with the psychological and mental aspects.
It is a truly holistic enterprise, which can bring tangible benefits in terms of a patient’s responsiveness to treatment, the alleviation of pain and suffering, and the ability of patients and their families to overcome trauma.
NHS staff are sensitive to the fact that ‘spiritual needs’ may be experienced by anyone, not simply those with religious beliefs. Indeed, the acknowledgement of a person’s language, culture, dietary needs, customs, anxiety and fear – or even their sense of isolation in unfamiliar surroundings – is an important component of spiritual care.
Those who provide care do not therefore assume that it is only patients who have explicitly stated their religion who are likely to need spiritual support and comfort during their illness. Times of crisis can lead us all to consciously or unconsciously feel something of a spiritual need.
Staff are always willing to inform patients and their families of the spiritual care available and assist them in contacting the chaplain of their respective faith if needed.
“The aim of medicine is to address not only the bodily assault that disease or injury inflicts, but also the psychological, social and even spiritual dimensions of the assault … to heal is to make whole or sound…”