Spirituality: the hole in holism?
‘I just thought you did rails and commodes’ said a nurse to an Occupational Therapist participating in Jones’s study ‘Spirituality embedded into acute adult practice.’
Another participant stated that observing spirituality in their practice would be ‘trying to find a needle in a haystack.’ Jones challenged that omitting spirituality creates a hole in our holistic practice, often caused by lack of a clear definition and increased pressures in acute settings.
Spirituality, once a term reserved for religious faiths, is now broadened to include bringing hope, meaning, and purpose to patients. As Occupational Therapists, we aim to treat them as unique spiritual beings, looking at their meaning and purpose, while addressing their well-being, suffering, and quality of life through occupation.
Through observing and interviewing two Occupational Therapists, spirituality was found in acute care through:
- Valuing the individual
Spirituality was observed in how the participants carried out person-centred care, their communication with patients by delivering information with sensitivity, keeping the individual in the decision-making process, and considering the occupations that are meaningful to each client.
- Supporting patients to maintain health and well-being
This is achieved through continual exploration of where clients find hope, for example, Jones mentioned a service user not engaging in therapy until knitting was suggested.
- Recognising spirituality as a dimension of holistic practice
Spirituality as part of our holistic practice meant conversations facilitated hope and open ended narrative assessments teased out patients’ values.
- Personal and Professional influences: core values – essence of being an OT.
To the participants’ reassurance and to today audience’s relief spiritually is found in acute care due to the essence of our profession, helping people find meaningful activity in their lives, taking into account their beliefs and values.
As a student just finished my first placement, I found this useful to not over-complicate using spirituality in practice. We can continue to seek what is meaningful in each client’s life.
Janice Jones London Southbank University (Twitter handle: @JaniceJ6873404)
Blog Squad writer: Orla Hughes (Twitter handle: @orlatheot)