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Spiritual, Religious and Existential Wellbeing in Health and Social Care seminar

This seminar advanced attention to the under-addressed domains of spirituality, religion, and ageing and provided critical reflection on the topic.

Spiritual, Religious and Existential Wellbeing in Health 6(1)Spirituality 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 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.

Objectives of the seminar were to enhance conversations about spiritual care in health, mental health, and social care, to identify spiritual and religious needs, strengths, and areas of suffering as active components of the human condition, to provide knowledge and skills to confidently and ethically engage with questions about spirituality, religion, and existential life meaning, and to promote critical reflection and idea exchange.

International guest speakers Prof. Edward Canda and Hwi-Ja Canda, recognised scholars in the area, shared their ideas about supporting spiritual growth at the end of life. Dr. Sally Richards and Jill Buckledee from Oxford-Brookes and Oxford UK spoke about the role of language in exploring spiritual well-being.

Speakers and Co-Chairs from Brunel University London included Prof. Holly Nelson-Becker who spoke about spirituality and the health and social care profession and Prof. Christina Victor who discussed loneliness and spirituality. Dr. Yohai Hakak presented on Western Muslim and Israeli ultra-orthodox parenting discourses, Dr. Michael Thomas presented on spirituality and sexuality and Prof. Akram Khan shared his views on the closing panel. An alumnus of the SW programme at Brunel, Jason Codrington, shared his MA dissertation findings on social workers’ confidence and competence when supporting religious and spiritual care. Plans are in place to continue ongoing discussions and develop research in the area.

Reported by:

Professor Holly Nelson-Becker
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