River Bend Presbytery, the United Church of Canada, sent the following proposal to Conference Executive in January 2018, where it was passed with concurrence. The Local Global Advocacy Network of SK Conference includes it here for the information and inspiration of other presbyteries, and presbyters who wish to raise this concern with the province, including their own MLA. More background on the sweeping March 2017 provincial budget cuts, their impacts, and LGA Network perspectives, is available here.
A call to the Government of Saskatchewan: Re-establish and fund professional multi-faith spiritual care and departments.
River Bend Presbytery proposes that:
For the health and holistic care of patients/residents/clients within the province,
Saskatchewan Conference of The United Church of Canada calls upon the Government of Saskatchewan, through the Ministry of Health:
- to reinstate professional multi-faith spiritual care staff within provincial healthcare institutions; and, immediately,
- to include, within its Ministry of Health budget , the necessary funds to establish departments of Spiritual Care and to staff said departments with well-qualified professional, multi-faith spiritual care practitioners.
In health care situations, people experience many stresses and losses, such as: a terminal diagnosis; a stillbirth; disintegration of mental health; the progression of dementia within themselves, a parent or a spouse; the death of a spouse, parent or child; life endangering surgeries; or, a move to long-term care. All these experiences have spiritual dimensions (which may or may not include religious concerns).
Spirituality is connected with questions of the fundamental nature of reality and being. Spiritual care practitioners are the only healthcare professionals trained specifically to engage – with patients, residents, and their families – such questions. In a system that prides itself on holistic and patient-centered care, spiritual care practitioners are the only professionals trained and equipped to care for the spirit.
Increasingly, evidence shows that professional spiritual care in health care improves patient, resident and family experiences, in addition to improving medical outcomes. By eliminating the services of multi-faith spiritual care professionals, patients, residents and families will no longer receive such emotional and spiritual support. This may result in already-busy health care workers needing, additionally, to care more intentionally for secondary stress-related health concerns.
Spiritual care professionals have achieved at least the equivalent of a master’s degree level of education, as well as multiple units of nationally-regulated spiritual care training. They are equipped uniquely by this education and training to care for the complex emotional and spiritual needs of all people.
Accreditation Canada is an accreditation body that works with patients and residents, policy makers and the public to improve quality of health and social services for all. It requires that patients and residents have access to adequate spiritual care. The Province of Saskatchewan is the only Canadian province not funding spiritual care in public health institutions.