Spiritual Health Association recognises that these are challenging and uncertain times. We know that spiritual care makes an essential contribution to compassionate, person-centred care and this aspect of care will be so important in the days ahead as patients, carers and staff are confronted with scenarios so different from what our health services have ever experienced before.
On this page Spiritual Health Association brings together up to date information about COVID-19 especially relevant for spiritual care managers, coordinators and practitioners. This includes information about how spiritual care provision is responding to the shifting needs and restrictions emerging in health services. We are also gathering resources for use as spiritual care practices change. These are from national and international locations. Our hope is that we can learn through this time and support one another to ensure that safe and high-quality spiritual care continues to be provided throughout our hospitals. Our Guidelines for Quality Spiritual Care in Health can be found here.
We are interested to hear of any innovative and creative ways spiritual care is being practiced so please contact us or send through relevant information and resources.
Spiritual care continues to be provided in many health services by professional spiritual care practitioners where they are employed. Many practitioners are responding to referrals only and not routinely visiting wards. Palliative care patients and their families, the elderly or isolated patients are given priority. Infection control measures are being adhered to at all times. Reliable and authorised sources of information are below:
The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services: https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/health-services-and-general-practitioners-coronavirus-disease-covid-19
Allied Health Professions Australia has an information page which is being updated daily: https://ahpa.com.au/news-events/coronavirus-covid-19-information/
The information provided below has been sourced from hospitals in Victoria, Tasmania and Western Australia. It may not be accurate for all hospitals in Australia.
Volunteers: have been stood down in most places. Opportunities for volunteers to contribute via telehealth options are being explored at some locations.
Face to face spiritual care: in the majority of hospitals face to face spiritual care is offered by referral only. Phone and other telehealth support options are being explored. Availability and use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is an issue for hospitals.
External faith/belief representatives: have been asked to not attend unless rituals or sacraments are required especially at the end of life. Some health services are exploring phone or virtual connections for patients with their faith or belief organisation.
Staff support: is of a high priority and much appreciated. Examples of support include online meditation groups, podcasts for coping/calming, short debrief opportunities especially for ICU and ED staff. Spiritual care working with the Wellbeing staff in some locations.
Sacred Spaces: Some health services have decided to close their Sacred Space while others are limiting access and ensuring the social distancing guidelines of 1.5 metres between people. The number of chairs and people visiting the Sacred Space at any one time has been reduced. Clear signage and monitoring of the space is occurring. Sealed bibles are available and disposed of once opened. Users are asked to bring their own prayer mats and sacred texts. Infection Control teams continue to assess the situation.
This situation continues to change as protocols and restrictions escalate with Covid-19.
The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services have developed a colourful poster with ten simple ways to reduce your risk of coronavirus. Clickhere to download the poster.
The Victorian Coronavirus hotline is 1800 675 398 (24 hours)
A webinar (1 hour) Pandemic Ethics: What Healthcare Chaplains need to know conducted by the Chaplaincy Innovation Lab and Transforming Chaplaincy. Click here to listen.
Check out Calm’s free resource page with meditations, stories, music, talks and more to support your mental and emotional wellness - click here.
A number of faith and belief resources are listed on our Multifaith page - click here.
Steve Mills, Spiritual Care Coordinator at SALHN shares their idea of "Word bombing" the hospitals to “infect” the hospital with positivity. "We are making new signs each day (we commenced this week) and cutting them in a circle to represent the shape of the COVID-19 virus, but our circle is green not red. They are 12 cm round. The idea is to keep the green dot uniformed.....but the message inside different. We are assuming that the person who reads it has a certain degree of anxiousness and uncertainty about the virus (and/or other things) and therefore we want to offer a word or symbol that
* brings a smiles
* a hopeful thought
* the reminder that while we are socially distancing ourselves we can still be communities of love, kindness, compassion.
We are placing these in different places around the hospital and then putting the next message nearby to give the effect of the messages spreading. Simple words, or messages - we have plenty of other ‘words’ and people can suggest their own. Click here to download the Word bombs.
Chaplaincy Innovation Lab - Strategies for Caring for Ourselves and Our Chaplain Colleagues - click here.
Healthcare Chaplaincy Network - A Time for Compassion - click here.
Spiritual Care Association - Chaplaincy in the Time of COVID-19 - click here.
Prof. Dr. Simon Peng-Keller (Professor for Spiritual Care, University Zurich) - We have now translated our spiritual care guidelines for COVID-19: "Chaplaincy in Times of the Corona Pandemic" - click here.
Association of Professional Chaplains - click here.
National Association of Catholic Chaplains (NACC) - click here.
Oates Institute - Setting the standard for spiritual care - click here.
VitalTalk - Covid Communication Skills - a playbook of tips - click here.
Inter Faith Network for the United Kingdom - faith communities and the Coronavirus - click here.