Re: “Make [hospital spiritual care] service user-pay,” Nov. 19 edition.
Stephen Keeling asks, “Why is this something every taxpayer need concern themselves with?” I would like to suggest that there are legitimate answers to that question.
First of all, “spiritual care” is different than mere “religious” or even “pastoral care.”
Spiritual care is based on the reality that people receiving treatment in our hospitals are not just in need of physical, emotional and or mental care; they are also in need of social and spiritual care. Regardless of whatever religious affiliation or lack of affiliation that patients (and, for that matter, staff who have to deal with patients’ concerns) may happen to have or not have, every one of us is in need of some recognition and treatment for our spiritual self, whatever that may include. So spiritual care deals with the worth of human beings, the value of our humanity, the meaning and the quality of our lives, and any concerns that may be related to patients’ and families’ end-of-life concerns. Regardless whether people have faith, or no faith, some aspect of these issues must be of concern for each patient (and staff), especially when they find themselves in a serious treatment or health-care crisis situation.
Believing that social care workers in the hospital can provide adequate spiritual care to patients and staff when required is a mistaken notion. They are not trained for nor experienced in providing such care. Chaplains/spiritual care practitioners are. They did it well and without denominational or faith community bias. Ask administrators and staff at the Abbotsford Regional Hospital and Cancer Centre. They will tell you that such leadership which helped to train and galvanize community volunteers is sorely missed.
Rev. Dr. Hans Kouwenberg