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 continues to be important as patients, carers and staff experience ongoing changes. At this time, we are thankful that the expected surge in cases has not been realised.
This page contains 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 in health services. We are 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. Generally, health services have not had high numbers of Covid cases as anticipated but are well-prepared to care for Covid-19 patients. Some services are returning to normal with more elective surgery, and inpatient numbers are increasing. Infection control measures are always being adhered to and the wellbeing of, and support for, health service staff is at the fore front for all health services.
The Spiritual sector is currently undertaking research at an international level to explore the changes that the pandemic has brought.
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 and https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/how-stay-safe-and-well-covid-19
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.
With the easing of restrictions in all states, things are returning to a “new normal” depending on the health service. Some innovative ways of providing spiritual care are being evaluated for the future.
Face to face spiritual care: currently, face to face spiritual care is offered mainly by referral and with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) if required. Phone and other telehealth support options are being provided. Health services are planning for the resumption of face to face spiritual care in most areas over the next months.
External faith/belief representatives: spiritual care is being provided through different methods depending on the health service. Visiting representatives from faiths and beliefs are providing some face to face visiting including end of life care, and this is strictly triaged and monitored. Some representatives continue to provide phone or virtual connections for patients and families of their faith or belief.
Volunteers: most volunteers are still stood down and some health services are planning for their return. Opportunities for volunteers to contribute via telehealth or telephone options are being explored at some locations.
Staff support: continues to be of a high priority and much appreciated. Some staff are expressing fatigue especially when dealing with End of Life issues when family cannot be present. Examples of support include discussing moral and ethical issues, providing “Honouring Statements” for staff; developing protocols for staff and families for compassionate end of life care, online meditation groups, podcasts for coping/calming, debriefing opportunities especially for ICU and ED staff. Spiritual care is working with the Wellbeing staff in many locations to provide support to patients, families and staff.
Sacred Spaces: the 1.5 metres social distancing guidelines are being adhered to in any Sacred Spaces that remain open. The number of chairs and people visiting the Sacred Space has been reduced. Stricter infection control measures have been implemented.
The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services have developed a colourful poster with ten simple ways to reduce your risk of coronavirus. Click here to download the poster.
The Victorian Coronavirus hotline is 1800 675 398 (24 hours)
Check out Calm’s free resource page with meditations, stories, music, talks and more to support your mental and emotional wellness - click here.
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.
COVID-19 and experiences of moral injury in front-line key workers from Occupational Medicine - click here to read the editorial.
The Telehealth Guidelines for Spiritual Care were developed in response to changing practices in health care that emerged in the context of COVID-19. These changes offered increased opportunities to provide care through online platforms - click here.
A number of faith and belief resources are listed on our Multifaith page - click here.
Laptops, tablets, smart phones or personal electronic devices are being used to replace face to face contact when the risks of cross infection are high or when family and friends are far away. These calls or contact via personal electronic devices at critical times of life, such as when a patient is seriously ill or at the end of life require a planned approach for safe compassionate care - click here for practical advice.
Resources for practitioners to educate the public on how bereavement and grief may be affected by this pandemic - 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.
Adult Mental Health Rehabilitation and self-isolation guide created by a Mental Health Spiritual Care practitioner - click here.
Chaplaincy Innovation Lab - Caring for Those Who Care - eBook - click here.
Chaplaincy Innovation Lab - Strategies for Caring for Ourselves and Our Chaplain Colleagues - click here.
Chaplaincy Innovation Lab - Spiritual Care at Seattle Children’s creates space for PICU staff- 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.
Princess Alice Hospice - "Be COVID-19 communication ready" staff poster - click here.