International Nurses Day 2022 | Spiritual healthcare research draws international attention

Professor Linda Ross

Professor Linda Ross

Professor LindaRoss  has been at the forefront of research into spiritual care in nursing since her PhD in the early 90s when she was the first person to explore nurses’ perceptions of spirituality and spiritual care.

Professor Ross’ latest study is a collaboration with six partners across five countries, developing a self-assessment tool that measures undergraduate nursing and midwifery students’ perceptions of spiritual care competence in health care practice. This will equip nurses with a better understanding of the importance of spirituality for health and wellbeing, so that they feel more competent and confident to address patients’ spiritual concerns, so promoting holistic health.

“Spiritual care is part of nurses/midwives’ responsibility. There is a need to better benchmark students’ competency development in spiritual care through their education,” she said.

“This tool is continuation of the existing EPICC Spiritual Care Education Standard, launched by Welsh Government in 2019. As a result of that launch, all nurses and midwives in Wales now have spiritual care as part of their training. It has expanded to shape education programmes across the world, with over 26 universities across 16 countries adopting these competencies, which we are very proud of.

“They have been translated into Dutch, Norwegian, and French. Also, Joedy Foundation, a Kenyan charity, have used the competencies to shape their health education and is using them to underpin all the programmes, such as their HIV and Malaria clinics.”

The latest research introduces a new tool that allows trainee nurses and midwives to annually consider and reflect on the spiritual aspects of their practice. It offers students and educators in clinical practice a tangible way of discussing and evaluating spiritual care competency.

Professor Ross said: “The pandemic has changed our thinking. It has highlighted the importance of doing the things that make us feel whole and uplifted, because they were taken away from us.

“As an educator this is a very practical tool because it is so relevant to practice. Spiritual care is about treating people as people and not just seeing their medical condition.

“Connection and transcendence are relevant to all of us.”