Spiritual competence: Mental health and palliative care: Spirituality, values and mental health

Document Type

Book Chapter


Faculty of Computing, Health and Science


School of Nursing, Midwifery and Postgraduate Medicine




Langlands, C., Mitchell, D., & Gordon, T.(2007) Spiritual Competence: Mental Health and Palliative Care. In Coyte, M., Gilbert, P. & Nicholls, V.(Eds.), Spirituality, values, and mental health : jewels for the journey (173-182). London ; Philadelphia : Jessica Kingsley Publishers. Available here.


This chapter seeks to blend the examples and experience of providing spiritual care in palliative care with experience and reflection on mental healthcare. In recent years spiritual care in palliative care has seen considerable development through national and professional standards, guidelines and competencies (Association of Hospice and Palliative Care Chaplains (AHPCC) 2006a, 2006b; Clinical Standards Board for Scotland (CSBS) 2002; Maric Curie Cancer Care (MCCC) 2003; National Institute for Clinical Excellence {NICE) 2004). Palliative care is about much more than caring tor the dying, it is an 'approach' that is applicable from diagnosis and focuses on improving the quality of life for patients and their families through the assessment and treatment of physical, psychological, social and spiritual problems (World Health Organization 2003). Utilizing the skills and expertise of a multidisciplinary team, the focus of care is on the individual patient within the context of their family. Chaplaincy standards in palliative care have shown that professional spiritual care provision can be defined and evidenced, and competencies for spiritual and religious care have demonstrated that individual healthcare professionals can be made aware of their skills and limitations in providing spiritual care (Cordon and Mitchell2004; Mitchell and Hibberd 2004). As will be seen from the practical examples in this chapter, all staff have the potential to provide spiritual care. However, chaplaincy has a particular role and expertise to offer patients, their families and all healthcare professionals (AHPCC 2006b; MCCC 2003).