Spiritual and Psychosocial Care

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Spiritual and Psychosocial Care

  • Purpose: To present the resident as a whole person with physical, psycho- social, and spiritual needs.


  • Understand the importance of psychosocial and spiritual care.
  • Know how to provide psychosocial and spiritual care interventions for a resident during the later stages of life.
  • Understand the regulatory requirements for meeting the needs of residents as whole persons.

View each individual’s needs holistically.

  • Physical Psychosocial
  • Spiritual

Spiritual and Psychological care giving requires team approach

  • Palliative Care Team:
  • nurse family
  • aide patient
  • social worker physician
  • chaplain volunteer
  • counselor

Assessing Psychosocial and Spiritual Suffering

  • Purposeful
  • Conversations

Purposeful observations and discussions should be:

  • On-going as the patient’s condition changes.
  • Documented to show individualization and coordination of care.
  • Note: Advance directives are one way to document patient’s wishes; however, purposeful conversations are still necessary.

Purposeful observations and conversations may include:

  • Patients’ cultural and religious beliefs
  • Values
  • Preferences
  • Fears
  • View of quality of life
  • Family relationships
  • Views of dying
  • Desire for CPR, artificial nutrition and hydration
  • Understanding of diagnosis and prognosis
  • Desired/acceptable treatments

Assessing Psychosocial and Spiritual Suffering

  • Psychosocial and spiritual suffering is real, but can be difficult to recognize and treat.
  • Psychosocial and spiritual suffering can be translated into physical complaints.
  • Listening is the best assessment tool.
  • Listen for hope vs. fear, joy vs. sadness, good memories vs. missed opportunities.

Assessing Psychosocial and Spiritual Suffering, cont.

  • Facility staff listens and reports signs and symptoms to the appropriate healthcare professional for further intervention.
  • Facilities should develop access to community professional spiritual caregivers of all faiths.
  • Facility staff may consider accessing the services of a hospice agency.

MDS Items for Assistance

  • Section AC. Customary Routine
  • Usually attends church, temple, etc.
  • Finds strength in faith
  • Section F. Psychosocial well-being
  • 1. Sense of initiative/involvement
  • Establishes own goals
  • Pursues involvement in life in facility

MDS Items for Assistance, cont.

  • Unsettled relationships
  • Openly expresses conflict/anger with family/friends
  • Absence of personal contact with family/
  • friends
  • Past roles
  • Strong identification with past roles and life status
  • Expresses sadness/anger/empty feelings over lost roles/status

MDS Items for Assistance, cont.

  • Past roles, cont.
  • Resident perceives that daily routine is very different from prior pattern in the community.
  • Section N Activity Pursuit Patterns:
  • General Activity Preferences
  • Spiritual/religious activities

Psychosocial Care

  • Encompasses both cognitive function and emotional health.
  • Calls for openness and sensitivity to feelings and emotional needs of the resident and the family.
  • Caregiving typically combines clinical and nonclinical interventions.

Psychosocial Care

  • Emotional pain is the dimension of end of life care that:
  • 1. Causes the most suffering.
  • 2. Is the most difficult to treat.
    • 3. Requires most interventions by staff.
  • a) clinical
  • b) non-clinical

Psychosocial Care, cont.

  • Symptoms associated with emotional and spiritual suffering:
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Helplessness
  • Aloneness
  • Financial distress
  • Meaninglessness

Psychosocial Care, cont.

  • Need for forgiveness
  • Fear of the unknown
  • Loss of important roles
  • Conflicted relationships
  • Hopelessness
  • Inability to enjoy/celebrate
  • Need to forgive

Spiritual Care

  • Residents are diverse in their spiritual needs.
  • Facilities and caregivers are diverse in their ability to meet spiritual needs.
  • Some facility staff may feel uncomfortable or inadequate in the role of meeting spiritual or psychosocial needs.

Spiritual Care, cont.

  • World Health Organization (WHO)
  • “Palliative care is the active total care of patients whose disease is not responsive to curative treatment. Control of pain, of other symptoms, and psychological, social, and spiritual problems is paramount.”

Spiritual Care – Religion and Spirituality

  • The search for peace and inner healing, replacing fear and despair with hope and serenity.
  • Basic tenet is to view the individual as a whole being-physical, psychological, social, and spiritual being.
  • All team members can listen and refer.
  • Professional caregivers-chaplain, priest, psychologist, or social worker is needed for more intensive spiritual or psychological interventions.

Is Palliative Care Giving up Hope?

  • Inability to cure physical disease does not necessarily equate to lost hope.
  • Providers behaviors interpreted by patients as abandonment.

Types of hope:

    • Physical healing
    • Comfort
    • Personal growth
    • Love
    • Reconciliation
    • Courage
    • Self-forgiveness
    • Fulfillment of one’s afterlife belief

Religion and Spirituality, cont.

  • Hope is an ongoing need throughout life.
  • Support depends on knowing what the resident or family is hoping to achieve.
  • Listening to what the resident or family hopes for and validating the resident’s feelings provides groundwork for meaningful support.

Religion and Spirituality

  • Religion and Spirituality are different.
  • Religion, according to Webster, is “belief in a divine or superhuman power or powers to be obeyed and worshiped as the creator and ruler of the universe---”.
  • Spirituality, according to Webster, is “of the spirit or soul as distinguished from the body or material matters.”
  • Spirituality explores the inner meaning of life now and after death.

Psychosocial and Spiritual Care Interventions

  • Basic caregiving involves listening.
  • Professional caregiving involves listening and seeking further explanation of “life stories involving fear, anger, and other affective states”.
  • Referral to other professionals frequently needed, i. e., chaplain, psychologist, social worker.

Developing Palliative Care Psychosocial and Spiritual Plans of Care

  • Identify problems and concerns.
  • Establish patient centered goals.
  • Write interventions that include family and patient involvement. Be sure and clearly identify scope and frequency of interventions provided by SNF, Hospice, Counselor or Spiritual Support staff.
  • Designate responsible discipline/organization.

Psychosocial and Spiritual Care Interventions

  • The following can be helpful:
  • Put aside your tasks and offer your presence.
  • Arrange for a spiritual leader to visit if desired.
  • Listen to stories or life reviews.
  • Allow expressions of anger, guilt, hurt and fear. Encourage the resident to acknowledge these feelings, and then let them go.
  • Avoid clichés like “It is God’s will.” Never say “Everything is going to be all right” or “You shouldn’t feel that way”.

Psychosocial and Spiritual Care Interventions, cont.

  • Read scriptures or other materials if the resident wishes.
  • Encourage appropriate joy and humor. Laughter lifts the spirit, celebrates life and keeps things in perspective.
  • Share prayers, meditation or music if the resident wishes.
  • Use massage and relation to help the resident relax.
  • Encourage completion of funeral arrangements.

Psychosocial and Spiritual Care Interventions, cont.

  • Encourage the resident to accept gratitude from others.
  • Identify what constitutes a “good death”.
  • Identify specific rituals or ceremonies important to the resident/family.
  • Identify cultural issues that affect the resident/family.
  • Encourage the family to give the resident permission to let go, when appropriate.

Psychosocial and Spiritual Care Interventions, cont.

  • Explain that it is alright to cry; tears are normal and show caring.
  • Encourage expressions of affection.
  • Be present with the resident and family if they want support.
  • Listen to the last wishes and regrets of the resident.
  • Communicate that what is happening is natural.

Psychosocial and Spiritual Care Interventions, cont.

  • Assist the resident in reframing goals that are attainable and meaningful.
  • Help the resident identify relationships that need closure.

Regulatory Requirements

  • 42 CFR Section 483.25 (a)
  • “Each resident must receive and the facility must provide the necessary care and services to attain or maintain the highest practicable physical, mental, and psycho-social well-being in accordance with the comprehensive assessment and plan of care.”

Right to Participate in Groups

  • State Licensure Requirement
  • 19 CSR 30-88.010 (30)
  • “Each resident shall be permitted to participate, as well as not participate, in activities of social, religious or community groups at his/her discretion, both within the facility, as well as outside the facility , unless contraindicated for reasons documented by physician in the resident’s medical record.”

Right to Participate in Groups, cont.

  • Federal Requirement
  • 42 CFR Section 483.15 (d), F245
  • “A resident has the right to participate in social, religious, and community activities that do not interfere with the rights of other residents in the facility.”

Right to Participate in Groups, cont.

  • F245, Interpretive Guidance to Surveyor
  • “The facility, to the extent possible, should accommodate an individual’s needs and choices for how he/she spends time, both inside and outside the facility.”

Social Services

  • Federal Requirement
  • 42 CFR Section 483.15 (g), F250
  • “The facility must provide medically related social services to attain or maintain the highest practicable physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being of each resident.”

Social Services

  • F250 Interpretive Guidance to Surveyor
  • “Medically related social services means services provided by the facility’s staff to assist residents in maintaining or improving their ability to manage their everyday physical, mental or psychosocial needs.”

Social Services

  • Interpretive Guideline, samples:
  • Maintain contact with family to report changes and encourage participation in care planning.
  • Assisting staff to inform residents of their health status, health choices, and ramifications.
  • Assist resident with financial and legal matters.
  • Providing or arranging for counseling services; identify and seek ways to support resident’s individual needs and preferences, customary routines, concerns, and choices.

Social Services

  • Interpretive Guidelines, samples, cont:
  • Building relationships between residents and staff and teaching staff how to understand and support resident’s individual needs.
  • Assisting residents to determine how they would like to make decisions about their health care and whether or not they would like someone else to be involved in those decisions.
  • Finding options that most meet the resident’s physical and emotional needs.

Social Services

  • Interpretive Guidelines, samples, cont:
  • Providing alternatives to drug therapy or restraints by understanding and communication to staff of why residents do what they do—and what needs the staff must meet.
  • Meeting the needs of residents who are grieving.
  • Finding options, which most meet their physical and emotional needs.
  • You matter because you are you. You matter to the last moment of your life, and we will do all we can not only to help you die peacefully, but also to live until you die.
  • -Cicely Saunders-

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