Hospice: Caring for Body and Spirit
In a hospital setting, end of life care is almost always about the body. Doctors diagnose how it’s failing and work to support those functions for as long as possible. When those efforts fail, doctors can do little more than provide a physical relief from pain. This is especially true when death is sudden or unexpected. But in a hospice setting – where death is anticipated but not always imminent – caring for the body isn’t always enough. In hospice, caring for a patient’s spirit is often just as important as caring for their body.
Spiritual Care is Vital Care
In this instance, ‘spiritual’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘religious.’ In a hospice setting, caring for a patient’s spirit means tending to their concerns beyond the medical. A hospice chaplain’s job is to assess their patient’s spiritual needs by learning about their religious affiliations (if any), spiritual beliefs (if any), and the impact those might have on their end-of-life decision making.
Beyond that, hospice chaplains are also there to listen to the hard questions medicine can’t answer. Like, “why is this happening to me?” Or, “how do I find a sense of peace through this process?” Questions most medical professionals just aren’t trained to answer.
A hospice chaplain’s role is not to proselytize or judge the righteousness of another person’s belief system. Instead, chaplains minister to patients with a variety of faith traditions and to those without traditions of their own. Chaplains offer empathy and a caring ear and work to usher their patients through the end-of-life process with compassion.
Hospice chaplains also tend to be more familiar with the issues of death and dying than normal clergy members and can act as valuable translators between physicians and families. It’s also often the chaplains role to ensure medical professionals understand and respect the patient’s spiritual wishes regarding their care. Beyond the vital signs, medications, and physical prognosis lies the vast territory of the spirit. This is where the chaplain lives.
Spiritual Care for Arizona Hospice Patients
If you or someone you love is in need of hospice care and live in the Phoenix area, Southland Hospice can help. We employ a qualified staff of medical – and spiritual – professionals who can care for you wherever you feel most comfortable. Call us today at (602)-497-4100 or fill out our contact form here. We’ll create a customized plan of care that ministers to both your body and spirit in this important time.