This week it was my privilege to speak at the Interstitial Lung Disease Conference in Birmingham. Health professionals from across the country came together to listen and to share their experiences with the aim of improving the care they gave people with a chronic lung disease which often will be the reason for their death.
They had asked me because of my nursing background to talk about creating spiritual space. They did this because they knew that the care they gave to people often did not involve spiritual care.
From speaking to them it was clear that they mirrored the research undertaken by The Royal College of Nursing (2011 Spirituality Survey). It found that nurses often found talking about matters spiritual was difficult because they were worried about offending people, they lacked training and they lacked time.
It was amazing how talking about the HOPE questions as a practical tool for spiritual assessment (Anadarajah G & Hight 2000 Pearson Education Inc) gave a language for those of faith and no faith to talk about the spirit. The questions included ‘What are your sources of hope or comfort?’ and ‘What helps you in times of difficulties’
I believe that talking about things spiritual doesn’t always need more time, it is more often about how you say thing not what you say. However, I was struck by how the health care professionals talked about the pressure that they were under and how to find time to practice such questioning is almost impossible.
I am a great supporter of the NHS but it appears to me that by missing the opportunity to talk about things spiritual is not just about hope but also about how we enable people to use all the resources they have to find life in all its fullness.