Staff’s and family members’ spiritual well-being in relation to help for residents with dementia

John Fisher


Background: Spiritual well-being of providers and patients is paramount for holistic care in nursing. Spiritual well-being is reflected in relationships in four areas, namely with self, others, environment and/or Transcendent Other.

Method: Fisher’s 20-item Spiritual Health and Life-Orientation Measure (SHALOM) was used to assess these four key components of spiritual health. A survey was completed by staff and family members of residents in a dementia care unit, to record three responses on SHALOM, namely their ideals for spiritual health, their lived experiences, and what they thought residents need for spiritual nurture in these four areas. Demographic variables were investigated, with respect to any impact on respondents’ spiritual well-being.

Results: Variations were found in the staff’s and family members’ spiritual well-being based on age, religious group membership and activities, and whether or not the respondent was facing a spiritual challenge. However, regression analyses showed that these variables had no significant influence on the help that staff thought residents need to nurture their spiritual well-being. Regression analyses did show that staff’s ideals contributed greatest explanation of variance in terms of help staff believe is needed for spiritual nurture of residents. On the other hand, it was the lived experiences of family members that showed greatest influence on what help they thought residents needed. This was especially true for family members who had difficulty living up to their own ideals. Even though they based their judgements on different rationale, staff and family members agreed on the priorities to be set in nurturing residents’ spiritual well-being in a dementia care unit.

Conclusion: Congruence was found between staff’s and family members’ perceptions of help needed to nurture residents’ spiritual well-being. This study, using the spiritual well-being questionnaire called SHALOM, revealed that staff acted professionally basing their judgment on ideals, whereas family members reflected their own lived experience, when determining what they thought was needed to help nurture residents’ spiritual well-being.

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Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

ISSN 1925-4040 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4059 (Online)

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