In an Australian-first initiative, a new project will develop national guidelines for spiritual care in residential and community aged care and provide a range of tools to support their implementation.
The collaboration between Pastoral and Spiritual Care of Older People (PASCOP), Spiritual Health Victoria (SHV) and the National Ageing Research Institute (NARI) received $400,000 in the latest round of Aged Care Service Improvement and Healthy Ageing Grants.
The guidelines will be based on a literature review, wide-ranging consultation and engagement with stakeholders, and will be piloted prior to finalisation.
Dave Petty, chief executive office of PASCOP, said contrary to a common misconception that spiritual care amounted to providing access to a chaplain, it was in fact something that all staff working in aged care had a role in.
Yet there is currently no national guide “that can assist organisations and staff in establishing what standards they should strive for or how they might achieve them,” Mr Petty told Australian Ageing Agenda.
The awareness and preparedness around spiritual care among aged care providers currently varied – some providers already took it seriously and did a good job, others would love to provide spiritual care but did not know where to start, while some still did not see a need for it, Mr Petty said.
The national standards would cover a range of settings and different categories of people. The project would also see the development of a range of tools to support people at a practical level to apply the guidelines.
The project was initiated by SHV, which was working in the aged care space and realised there were no best practice guidelines that applied to aged care or older people, said Mr Petty. “SHV began undertaking the initial research to inform the project. Shortly after PASCOP was formed as a national organisation it was invited to join with SHV in a partnership.”
NARI will be responsible for project management.
Mr Petty said the project aimed to have the guidelines and materials ready by June next year.
For more information visit the PASCOP website where a separate webpage detailing the project will be added soon.