Dr Kathryn Gaunt, Specialist Registrar
The ‘Opening the Spiritual Gate e-learning package’ is a simple yet really effective way of understanding more about the spiritual needs of patients.
As a doctor having worked in palliative medicine for a number of years I have often stopped short of a truly holistic patient assessment. I knew in theory that the realm of spiritual care was part of the remit of a palliative care assessment but I just didn’t know the right way to bring up these issues. What was meant by spiritual distress and should I be the one to delve into these areas anyway? What if a patient started to talk to me about things I didn’t understand; things I didn’t have the answers to? For these reasons I was keen to see what this course could offer.
This e-learning package is split into four modules which take you through the meaning of religion and spirituality (as far as it can be defined!), recognising spiritual distress, communication, recording and reporting and finally pulling it all together. It is an easy format to follow and uses a range of techniques to help explain some ill-defined and ethereal concepts. I did worry that with a topic such as spirituality it would be better to attend a face-to-face training day where there can be open discussions and the sharing of experiences. This course gets around this problem with the use of forums where ideas and concerns can be discussed with others including the course tutors. There is also sign-posting to some really useful resources on spiritual and religious care.
The beauty of an e-learning package is that you can dip in and out with whatever time you have to spare. You can also revisit sections and take your own time to work through modules that are more thought-provoking or challenging. I’m not saying that I am now an expert and have all the answers, but at least I feel better prepared and much more confident to start and continue these difficult conversations with patients
Dr Kathryn Gaunt,