Monday, 4 July 2016

Aligning policy and practice

Aligning policy and practice

In early June, Faith in Older People and the Scottish Partnership for Palliative Care held a joint conference which had the aim of considering the impact of recent policy initiatives in relation to spirituality and palliative care and the extent to which spiritual care is seen as an integral part of person-centred care towards the end of life.

The conference provided an opportunity to consider the policies and their impact on practice in a variety of settings which reflect the integration of health and social care.  Delegates had an opportunity to share experiences, to discuss potential for improvement and to identify how such improvements might best be supported.

The integration of health and social care is a key Scottish Government policy aimed at redefining how we deliver services and how we collaborate across professions, sectors and budgets.  The conference was set in this context and we wanted to consider the two delivery plans with perhaps embrace the less obvious elements of the process – palliative care and spiritual care.  The Palliative Care Framework is being implemented whilst the spiritual care delivery plan is still under consultation.

Both address how we should deliver good person-centred care particularly at the end of life.  Perhaps both highlight areas in which there are misunderstandings of what they represent and importantly how they can be effectively delivered and enabled.

Each of these key delivery plans refer to the other – a principle in the palliative care strategy relates to spiritual care and spiritual care is considered in the light of end of life and a rights based approach.  They need to talk to each other in order to meet the needs of patients and residents.  We need to consider how implementation can encompass training and skills in both sectors; be key elements in providing quality care and be readily understood and put into practice.  We need to better ensure that the links are made and the different policy initiatives that come under the umbrella of integration are aligned to ensure proper implementation.

  • Strategic Framework for Action on Palliative Care and End of Life Care 2016-2021 - The Scottish Government December 2015
  • National Delivery Plan for Spiritual Care in Scotland 2016-2021 is being consulted upon at the present time – two key elements in the role of spiritual care staff are:
‘helping people to discover hope, resilience and inner strength in times of illness, injury, transition, loss and death’ and ‘ ….. to mark significant moments in life and death using ritual and in other meaningful ways’

Maureen O’Neill
4 July 2016

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Compassion and Empathy

Compassion and Empathy

I recently had the opportunity to lead a discussion during the Festival of Empathy on ‘compassion and empathy’ with a focus on older people in our different faith communities.  I found it helpful to consider the definitions and chose the following:

Compassion – a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.

Empathy – the ability to understand and share the feelings of another (as in eg, authors have the skill to make you feel empathy with their heroines), whereas sympathy means ‘feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else’s misfortune (as in eg, they had great sympathy for the flood victims).

All our major religions have compassion as a core virtue:

·         Hindu – compassion is the core virtue in its philosophy
·         Judaism – God is the compassionate
·         Christianity – Jesus Christ the Father of Compassion
·         Islam – Allah the Compassionate

Accompanied by the Golden Rule “do to others what you would want them to do to you”.

Currently the new National Care Standards for health and social care in Scotland are being developed at the heart of which are five core principles:

  • Dignity and respect
  • Be included
  • Responsive care and support
  • Well-being

We discussed a range of questions which included:

·         Is being kind and helpful the same as being compassionate?
·         Can you teach compassion?
·         What do you understand by compassion fatigue?
·         What can we do to prevent such fatigue?

What do you think?

Maureen O’Neill
21 June 2016

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Faith Communities as an asset

Faith Communities as an asset

It seems but yesterday when Faith in Older People published the results of the research it had undertaken with faith communities in Scotland (2013) regarding their support for older people within their congregations and inclusive of others in the community.  A wide range of religious, social and practical services were offered which embraced pastoral care at home and in care homes.

This work has led to FiOP developing its ‘dementia friendly faith communities work’ as there was a clear indication that this was a particular concern to many congregations.  Our aim is to affirm and support activities and to continue to develop an understanding of the need of those with dementia and their carers.

There is perhaps some way to go in ensuring that the contributions and needs of an ageing congregation are recognised, appreciated and understood as older people provide the backbone to many congregations.  I was therefore interested to read a book entitled ‘A vision for the Ageing Church’ which has been written by two American academics which points out the following:

“Despite religious edicts and demographic realities that accentuate the need for faith-based initiatives to deal with a rapidly ageing population, communities of faith have not responded to their tremendous potential.  In general, the professional communities (scientific and practice) have not had access to congregations and this lack of collaboration has continued because unifying frameworks in successful ageing and care giving have not incorporated spiritual into their evidence-based models of intervention”.

There is a growing emphasis on the importance of spiritual well-being and this is an integral part of person centred care.  It embraces compassion and kindness which are key contributors to well-being which complement and support clinical or social care practice.  There is room for greater collaboration which draws on the strengths of faith communities and builds the strengths of those who need care and those who provide it.

A vision for the Ageing Church’ James M. Houston and Michael Parker; Intervarsity Press (2011)

Maureen O’Neill
May 2016