Australia’s peak body for spiritual care in ageing has produced a resource to help service providers train staff in residential and community settings how to incorporate spirituality into their daily care activities.
The Spirituality in Aged Care Professional Development Program Leader’s Manual covers issues including the meaning of spirituality, alignment with national quality standards, spiritual care for people living with dementia and spiritual care mentors.
Meaningful Ageing Australia CEO Ilsa Hampton says the resource comes in response to the new Australian Aged Care Quality Standards currently before parliament which require service providers to support the spiritual wellbeing of older people.
She says the training resource is designed to help integrate spiritual care in aged care and equip staff with the skills and confidence to support the spiritual needs of their clients.
Spirituality isn’t an easy topic for many people, she says.
“While spirituality in aged care is not a new concept, it is one to be explored and embedded in aged care services if we are to truly support the well being of seniors as they age.”
The resource was developed after a trial in 2013 by Spiritual Health Victoria involving more than 100 staff across multiple locations.
A report on the pilot, released in December 2013, found the education package was effective in helping staff and volunteers from a range of aged care settings to identify and respond to the physical needs of aged care recipients.
It recommended additional funding so staff administering the Home Care Packages Program could implement the education, but this had not been made available, Ms Hampton said.
“Unfortunately there is no direct funding for providers to understand and respond to spiritual care needs in either residential care or community care,”she told Community Care Review.
However Ms Hampton said federal funds had made possible the release in 2016 of Meaningful Ageing Australia’s national guidelines for spiritual care in aged care, which she said was “an important step in acknowledging the need to give the sector a way forward with contemporary spiritual care. ”
The training program can be run in whole or segments and features introductory materials, handouts and links to PowerPoints and films.
It will be launched on August 8 and will be available on the Meaningful Ageing Australia website from then.