Public Health England last week launched a new resource for healthcare professionals and service providers giving guidance about spiritual needs at the end of life. Faith at the End of Life, which focuses on the UK’s six largest religions: Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Sikhism, promotes a public health approach to death, dying and bereavement, highlighting the importance of community in maintaining and promoting the wellbeing of people who are dying, caring or bereaved.
Faith at the End of Life includes case studies as examples of good practice, including a profile of St Joseph’s Hospice’s ‘Compassionate Neighbours’ project, and concludes with thirteen specific recommendations for healthcare professionals and service providers.
At the end of life, many people do not wish to be separated from the communities in which they have lived, and those close to them are likely to require local support to cope with their loss. In addition, this is a time when, for some people, spiritual matters come to the fore and can be a great comfort both to the individual concerned, their carers and their loved ones. Public health approaches to end of life care, focusing on community-centred care and support, have much to offer to maintain and promote the wellbeing of people who are dying, caring or bereaved.
Public Health England has been working with partners to promote, facilitate and evaluate public health approaches to death, dying and bereavement throughout the country. This includes work with partners to develop the Dying Well Community Charter and accompanying toolkit, as well as work to understand the public’s and public health professionals’ awareness, perceptions and experiences of these approaches.
This community-centred focus recognises the need for professionals, providers and commissioners to work alongside local partners to ensure that end of life care services meet the needs of local communities. Public Health England understands the importance of faith in shaping the health and care decisions of many people, and recognises that providing appropriate community care is likely to require collaboration with faith leaders and places of worship to ensure that spiritual end of life care needs are met.
Public Health England recognises that those working in community settings need to be equipped with the right skills and knowledge to do so. This resource aims to provide health and care professionals, and those responsible for commissioning and providing services, in community settings with an understanding of some of the different spiritual end of life care needs associated with Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Sikhism. This resource also provides a number of recommendations for these audiences and signposts to a number of available resources to further inform their practice. We would be delighted to hear from you in relation to this document either with suggestions for improvement or examples of how it has been used.
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