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Unity and Diversity in Spiritual Care

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Unity and Diversity in Spiritual Care

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Spiritual needs, and psychosocial needs are much less tangible than physical needs, because they are often abstract, complex and more difficult to measure. These more intangible needs have frequently been given a much lower priority than needs which are more obvious and more easily measurable. Spiritual needs, if expressed outside of a religious framework, are very likely to go unnoticed. So if we are to identify spiritual needs and provide spiritual care, it's first necessary to have some understanding of the nature of spirituality and how it may be expressed by different individuals.

In Australian society, and therefore in our health care setting, we encounter a diversity of cultures, philosophies and religious traditions, as well as individuals who have no clearly defined philosophy or belief system. Therefore it's important that we develop some general definitions which can help us to recognise spiritual needs when we encounter them in our clients. In recent years, a number of definitions have emerged which are helpful both for defining spirituality, and differentiating between spiritual needs and religious or psychosocial needs.

Simsen defines spirituality by saying... "THE SPIRIT is that part of man which is concerned with the ultimate meaning of things and with a person's relationship to that which transcends the material." (Simsen, 1985:10) Moberg says it is... "The totality of man's inner resources, the ultimate concerns around which all other values are focussed, the central philosophy of life which influences all individual and social behaviour." (Moberg, 1979) SPIRITUAL NEED has been variously defined as, "Any factor that is necessary (requisite, indispensable) to support the spiritual strengths of a person or to diminish the spiritual deficits." (Simsen, 1985:10). "The lack of any factor or factors necessary to maintain a person's dynamic relationship with God/Deity (as defined by that person)." (Stallwood, 1975: 1088), and "That requirement...

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