Making Sense of Spiritual Care

Document Type

Book Chapter


Faculty of Computing, Health and Science


School of Nursing, Midwifery and Postgraduate Medicine




Mitchell, D., & Gordon, T. (2007). Making sense of Spiritual care. In Kinghorn, S. & Gaines, S. (Eds.), Palliative nursing: Improving end-of-life care (2nd ed., 65-78), Edinburgh Sydney, NSW Churchill Livingstone Elsevier. Available here.


The provision of spiritual care palliative care has log roots stretching back to the early religious communities. However, the spirituality and spiritual care practiced in the 21st century, while capturing the selfless caring of these early hospices and the holistic care of the modern hospice movement, is a much more structured and accountable area of care. The struggle for a definition of spirituality and the debate in nursing and medical journals throughout the 1990s have influenced a sea change in thinking, and the spiritual care that was once thought impossible to put into words or be audited and measured has come of age for the new millennium. A key factor in the change has been the clear and focused understanding within palliative care that spiritual care is not an optional extra; rather it is an integral aspect of holistic care that comes into sharp focus for patients, families/carers and health professionals when faced with a life-threatening illness and the process of dying.