Carlo Leget, Chair of the EAPC Taskforce on Spiritual Care and board member (and Associate Professor Ethics of Care, Tilburg University, the Netherlands)
One of the new EAPC taskforces that was launched at the 2011 congress in Lisbon is the Taskforce on Spiritual Care. Beginning with a small preparatory conference of 14 people in the fall of 2010, just six months later the meeting room in Lisbon was packed with more than 30 people who were motivated to bring spiritual care one step further.
Spiritual care in Europe is a subject that is full of questions. Not only ‘the big questions’ – questions of meaning that are my personal inspiration to be involved in this area – but also practical questions of organisation. There are great differences between countries involved in the EAPC. Some countries have developed nationwide training programmes for this dimension of palliative care for physicians and nurses; other countries have guidelines and multidisciplinary initiatives, and a third group of countries struggles with traditional providers of spiritual care such as churches. Different cultural contexts require different solutions. However, one of the great things about having a taskforce is that experiences and good ideas can be exchanged. This is a great source of inspiration and insight.
As our taskforce comprised more than 30 people we formed three groups at the Lisbon meeting. One group focused on education and began by making an inventory of the many initiatives that have been developed in this field until now. A second group took implementation as its goal and will be publishing papers in the European Journal of Palliative Care during the coming months: each paper will report on the implementation of spiritual care in one particular European country. A third group concentrated on research in this field and began preparing a European online survey among healthcare professionals.
Online survey – defining research priorities in spiritual care
Developing the online survey has been quite a job and a rather tough experience – confronting the taskforce with differences in ethical legislation between countries for one thing – but it will be online in a few weeks’ time. The importance of this survey is huge. For the first time in Europe, we will ask as many professionals in palliative care as we can reach to help us define research priorities in spiritual care. This will enable us to focus further research into spiritual care. We hope for the support of each reader of this blog, not only by filling in the online questionnaire but also by recommending it to colleagues. The survey will soon be accessible via the main page of the EAPC website. Stay tuned!