National guidelines for spiritual care in aged care

Aged care quality and safety Aged care Australia

An extensive search of the academic and ‘grey’ literature indicated that no guidelines were available that specifically related to spiritual care for older people living in residential aged care or receiving care and support at home. This gap led to a successful funding application through the Australian Government Department of Social Services (later changed to the Department of Health) to develop National Guidelines for Spiritual Care in Aged Care.

As spirituality is integral to quality of life and well-being, it should be accessible to all older people in way that is meaningful to their beliefs, culture and circumstances. The identification of spiritual needs and offering of spiritual care is the responsibility of all care-givers and must be undertaken in ways that are appropriate to their role.

A project was established to develop and pilot National Guidelines for Spiritual Care in Aged Care. The Guidelines reflect best-practice in spiritual care, therefore most organisations are likely to have some gaps and areas for improvement.

The guidelines were developed following a literature review to establish an evidence-based framework and fieldwork that involved close consultation with the sector:

  • Older people and their carers/representatives, staff, volunteers and aged care providers were consulted through focus groups, interviews and surveys;
  • An Expert Advisory Panel steered development of the content, format and structure of the Guidelines;
  • The Draft Guidelines were published and feedback sought through submissions and survey;
  • The Guidelines were piloted and the outcomes incorporated into revisions;
  • The Guidelines were subjected to technical review and critical analysis prior to publication.
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