Nurses often encounter patients with diverse faiths when treating the sick or the injured (Burkhardt, 2007). Given this, providers in healthcare practice should know the behavioral patterns of patients, especially as concerns their faith. Several studies show that religion affects the behavioral patterns of all people involved in healthcare settings. As concerns for religious aspects in healthcare become more complex, nursing is moving towards providing a more holistic approach to care.
What is the spiritual perspective on healing?
Religious practices influence illness, treatment, and nursing care even though spiritual leaders primarily healed the sick (DuBray, 2001). Today, religious practices affect all aspects of healthcare. Sensitive care requires health providers to value religious diversity. Sensitive healthcare requires that healthcare providers relate to a variety of faiths. Even in instances where the background of a nurse is similar to that of a patient, the patient may not share similar beliefs with the nurse (DuBray, 2001). Since stereotyping demeans patients and nurses, nurses should make sure that patients are treated well, regardless of their gender, culture, and religion. Although patients may not agree with the patient’s beliefs, they should give their patients non-sectarian and non-dogmatic support. This should be appropriate to the worldview of each patient.
Of the three religions, Sikh, Bahai, and Buddhism have their own unique histories that are either recent or antique (Fontaine, 2000). The three religious groups have their own spiritual perspectives of living, hinged on values, beliefs, and traditions. Although the religious practices of the three minority practices are limited in their application to care provision, they are significant to the patient’s life. The non-applicable practices may extend to special practices in worship areas. On the other hand, Christianity insists that religious leaders have a place in healthcare since only they are allowed to relieve a patient of religious duty, for instance, fasting (Fontaine, 2000). Patients deserve various options of care, without feeling pressurized by caregivers to be up to standard. The ethical decision lies within the spiritual way of life of patients, keeping religious leaders in a much helpful position. Where there exists a conflict in care provision and religion, religious leaders are able to comfort or support ill patients.
The critical components of healing
The components of healing that are relevant to holistic care include spirituality and mediation, beliefs, and prayer (Griffith, 2009).
Most patients believe that their spirituality promotes healing in instances where medications for the conditions are unknown (Griffith, 2009). Combining spirituality with alternative therapies gives patients the knowledge of their contribution to treating illnesses and healing. As the world shifts its focus to intuition, nurses will focus more on the creative and emotional thinking of their patients (Griffith, 2009). Evidence shows that integrating physical and spiritual aspects of healing will be the norm of many healthcare settings. Integrative healthcare care focuses more on promoting environments that respect people’s religious view of life. Providing holistic healthcare that integrates the mind, body, and spirit is at the center of holistic care. Holistic care will make sure that nurses and clinicians engage in assessing and responding to the spiritual and physical dimensions of patients (Griffith, 2009).
Prayer is a universal coping strategy that most healthcare providers employ in their practice (Religious, Spiritual, Pastoral & Cultural Care n.d.). Evidence links spiritual beliefs such as prayer to increased survival rates of patients who undergo surgery. Burkhardt (2007) defines prayer as an expression of the spirit that yearns to engage a Supreme Being in communication. Thus, prayer is an instinct that connects one with the source of their life and forms the foundation of nearly all religions. Prayer affects healing processes by contributing to positive physical and emotional health, creating a cause-effect relationship. Previous studies also back a relationship between religious practices such as prayer and good health (Burkhardt, 2007).
Spirituality and meditation
Spirituality, as a component of healing, arises from a transpersonal awareness that arises through meditation to create inspiration and meaningful guidance (Religious, Spiritual, Pastoral & Cultural Care n.d.). Mediation entails listening to the voices within and being open to divine and independent thoughts and words. It also entails experiencing the unfolding life and opening up one holistically to supernatural power. In clinical settings, patients appreciate opportunities for peaceful meditation, and care is necessary when handling tools that patients may use in meditating, such as rosaries, Buddhist images, or meditation tools (Religious, Spiritual, Pastoral & Cultural Care n.d.). Care providers should also allow the patient to use incense during meditation as a religious practice.
Caring for individuals with different religious practices
It is important for nurses to understand the different religious practices of patients. Today, nurses are keen to identify with people who recognize their belief systems and cultural beliefs (DuBray, 2001). In care settings, alienation risks exist because nurses overlook critical religious concerns of patients. Presuming the beliefs that a patient may reject requires that nurses explore these aspects of healthcare. According to DuBray (2001), nurses from subconscious attitudes that can influence their relations with others or their worldviews. Health care sensitivity requires one to accept their religious identity. It also requires that we acknowledge the integrity of other religions, despite their practices that may confuse care providers. Care providers who know their beliefs are capable of meeting the religious beliefs of their patients (DuBray, 2001). This will prevent religious stereotyping; thereby encouraging nurses to appreciate their patients as people.
Nursing health history should systematically obtain information from patients (Fontaine, 2000). This applies to planning and modifying care that can fit the lives of patients, especially their spiritual practices. Nurses and care providers should desist from stereotyped assumptions about religious preferences, because people vary in many aspects. Patients have to feel welcomed if one is inquiring about their preferences and if that person divulges the reason for providing the information (Fontaine, 2000). In respecting the religious practices of their patients, nurses should inquire various aspect of care such as food preferences that relate to religious beliefs, the need for same sex caregivers, or their reasons for refusing various aspects of care that may, for example, interfere with their prayers.
Patient’s view of nurses who integrate patient’s beliefs in health provision
Nurses have to provide care that respects diverse belief systems, given that when healthcare providers fail to embrace the beliefs of patients, they view this as inappropriate and discriminatory service delivery (Religious, Spiritual, Pastoral & Cultural Care n.d.). Religious beliefs have long been the topic of discussion in discriminatory practices of many healthcare settings. Thus, response to religious diversity positively moves towards getting rid of discriminatory practices within the work environment. Recognizing the religious beliefs of patients without racial stereotypes is an important component of service delivery. It is therefore important to keep away from a culture where healthcare providers do not discuss religious aspects when providing care (Religious, Spiritual, Pastoral & Cultural Care n.d.). Healthcare settings should equip their staff to provide culturally competent care.
Although they are not well known, Sikh, Bahai, and Buddhism represent a diverse cultural community (Religious, Spiritual, Pastoral & Cultural Care n.d.). The minority groups often find getting communal support an uphill task. Further, staffs who understand their religious practices are hard to find. Good religious care requires communication between communities, families, and individuals. This includes asking appropriate questions and communicating them well across teams. Studies show that most healthcare settings compromise religious observances, dietary patterns, and modesty (Religious, Spiritual, Pastoral & Cultural Care n.d.). Healthcare service providers must therefore retain their self-respect, integrity, and dignity. This includes discovering and helping patients continue keeping their religious practices even within care settings. In this instance, knowledge of the religious details is vital, making communal and specialist support a key factor in adequate care planning. People have religious belief that greatly matters to them, with many who have good experiences of faith groups appreciating contact, despite lacking religious labels.
Various correlation studies also show a positive effect of prayer on psychological health. People embrace medical care alongside prayer, to cope with illnesses, to arrest progression of illnesses, and to achieve complete healing of illnesses. Most patients entrust holistic care to their care providers. Acknowledging the connection between the spirit, body, and mind will make sure that nurses care for all these aspects of a patient’s life. As long as care facilities have no limits in providing care to patients, they should support these individuals in maintaining their religious practices, which they hold dear.
Burkhardt, M. (2007). Commentary on Spirituality in Nursing and Health-Related literature. Journal of Holistic Nursing, 25(4), 263-274.
DuBray, W. (2001). Spirituality and healing: A multicultural perspective. New York: Writers Club Press.
Fontaine, K. (2000). Healing practices: Alternative therapies for nursing. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Griffith, J. (2009). The religious Aspects of Nursing Care. Web.
Religious, Spiritual, Pastoral & Cultural Care (n.d.). Web.