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Spiritual, Religious and Existential Wellbeing in Health and Social Care


This free seminar will aim to advance the need for attention to the under-addressed domains of spirituality, religion, and ageing, to build practical competency, and provide critical reflection on the topic.

 Quality health and social care includes expert attention to all aspects of a service user’s quality of life, including the biopsychosocial spiritual and emotional domains of assessment. The medical model of care has led to an almost exclusive focus on physiological aspects of care to the exclusion of whole person care. Maladies of the soul such as guilt, shame, depletion, cynicism, and fear remain generally absent as a focus for mental health intervention (Nelson-Becker, 2018). For the multidimensional aspects of the service user/patient experience to be addressed, the approach must broaden and deepen. Clinical care practitioners need the skills, competency, and confidence to recognize and attend to strengths, hopes, and suffering within each domain.

 Objective 1: To enhance conversations about spiritual care in health, mental health, and social care with service users/patients and professionals and to provide training contributing to sense of competency.

Objective 2: To identify spiritual and religious needs, spiritual and religious strengths, and spiritual and religious suffering as active components of the human condition.

Objective 3: To provide seminar participants with knowledge and skills to confidently and ethically engage with questions about spirituality, religion, and existential life meaning with older adults and others throughout the life course and especially at the end of life.

Objective 4: To promote critical reflection, opportunities for idea exchange, and promote research networks and future collaborations.


Draft Programme

   9.30am      Registration and tea/coffee 

 10.00am      Opening and Introduction

                      Professor Holly Nelson-Becker, Professor of Social Work and Division Lead, Brunel University London 

10.15am      Spiritual Growth at the End of Life 

                      Professor Ed Canda and Ms Hwi-Ja Canda, University of Kansas, US and Lawrence Memorial Hospital, Kansas, US 

 11.30am     Tea/coffee 

 11.50am     Spirituality and the Health and Social Care Professions

                      Professor Holly Nelson-Becker, Professor of Social Work and Division Lead, Brunel University London 

 12.20pm     Loneliness and Spirituality

                      Professor Christina Victor, Professor of Gerontology and Public Health, Vice Dean-Research,

                      College of Health and Life Sciences and Leader, Ageing Studies Research Theme

  12.50pm    Lunch

    1.45pm    Barrier or Enabler? Navigating Language and Spirituality

                      Dr Sally Richards, Research Visiting Fellow, Department of Psychology, Social Work and Public Health,

                     Oxford Brookes University and Dr Jill Buckledee, Independent Psychotherapist and Supervisor, Oxford

   2 15pm    Spirituality and Sexuality – Not Necessarily a Binary Choice for LGB People

                     Dr Mike Thomas, Programme Leader, MA Social Work, Brunel University London

   2.45pm    Parenting Discourses Among Western Muslim Minorities and Israeli Ultra-Orthodox Jews:

                     Juggling the Maintenance of Social Boundaries and Wellbeing

                     Dr Yohai Hakak, Lecturer in Social Work, Brunel University London

   3.15pm    Tea/coffee

   3.30pm    Panel Discussion

                     Professor Akram Khan, Professor Holly Nelson-Becker, Professor Christina Victor, Brunel University London;

                     Professor Ed Canda, University of Kansas    

   4.20pm    Closing Remarks

   4.30pm    End of Seminar


For further information contact: anna.liddle@brunel.ac.uk