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Incorporating Spirituality in End-of-Life Nursing Care
  1. Sarah Spencer-Adams
  1. Sarah Spencer-Adams is Clinical Nurse Specialist, Palliative Care Team, King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, London. Email: Sarah.Spencer-Adams{at}nhs.net

Abstract

The palliative approach to care involves individual, holistic, continuous assessment of physical, psychological, spiritual and social problems. The aim is to identify adverse symptoms and associated distress and then to identify measures to help alleviate those symptoms. Spiritual distress at the end of life has the potential to impinge on physical and psychosocial wellbeing, thereby decreasing quality of life. There is evidence to suggest that patients and their carers welcome the opportunity to discuss their spiritual needs. Recent UK health policy has acknowledged the importance of spiritual assessment. However, spiritual assessment within the context of end-of-life care presents fundamental problems for practitioners, as it is not clear what is meant by the term ‘spirituality’ or how relevant it is in an age purported to be increasingly secular. This article aims to explore spirituality in the context of life-limiting disease. It is hoped that it will help increase nurses’ understanding of the concept and thus make them feel more confident to incorporate spiritual care into their daily practice. Conflicts of interest: none

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