It’s easy to get skeptical about practices that get labeled complementary medicine, given how often that label is used to cover the intention to replace normal treatment with a new option. However, many doctors are finding that adding practices that support a patient’s spiritual health and healing process is just as important to the recovery process as practices that support mental and emotional health. The two are interlinked to such a degree that for people of faith, supporting spiritual health is a core part of supporting their emotional and mental health.
How Saint Anne’s Reached Out
One of the stickiest issues when it comes to supporting spirituality within healthcare settings is the need to make sure you are respecting the needs of the patient, not forcing them through steps prescribed by the institution. That means acknowledging and providing resources to patients of various faiths, and it also means providing resources in various modes to suit the individual needs and temporary impairments of each patient. St. Anne’s hospital in Massachusetts has found great success in their initial moves toward integrating support for spiritual healing by opening the conversation within their Community Benefits Council.
They are having open discussions about the needs of patients that acknowledges all the stakeholders, including the medical professionals asked to engage with the patients for therapies and treatments, and representatives of the patient population. They bring forward voices to discuss what has worked and what helped, and the program is finding that for victims of trauma like human trafficking or domestic abuse, providing faith-based support is especially helpful. They also find it improves the emotional well-being and outcomes for patients facing treatments and surgeries with long recovery times.
Planning for Your Spiritual Needs in the Hospital
Whether your local hospital has programs similar to those going on in Massachusetts or not, you can help support yourself and your loved ones during hospital visits and post-hospital recovery periods by making a community support plan with all the components needed to provide for the people you care about.
- Clergy support from the congregation they attend
- Resources like The Way International that provide enrichment and information about spiritual and religious topics
- Holy books and resources for study and contemplation
- Mementos and keepsakes with religious significance, like medals of the saints
Most initiatives to include support for a patient’s spirituality help connect patients to resources like these if they don’t have a support plan already in place. You can always add to those resources because when it comes to supporting the spiritual health of people who are sick or in need of surgical intervention, the most personal approach is always the one that works best.
If you’re not sure where to start with the process, consider talking to your local clergy or church volunteer organizations about doing outreach for members of the congregation and their extended families whenever they have a hospital visit. And don’t forget to support the needs of the whole family during the healing process, so the family can support their loved one.
See ya later,