Posted: December 2, 2016
Florence Juma2

Florence Juma knows how religion and spirituality play key roles in the lives of many people.

So it can become even more important when a crisis lands someone in hospital.

Research has shown that up to 60% of people consider religion and/or spirituality as important in their day-to-day living, which is why spiritual care needs to be available for patients and families.

Spiritual care providers like Florence offer support to patients in the hospital. They work with a variety of different people – those connected with a faith community, those who find themselves without a community, and those who find their support outside of a faith group.

Florence, who is certified by the Canadian Association for Spiritual Care (CASC) and Registered with the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario (CRPO), is a spiritual care provider at GRH. She has worked in different capacities within the field of spiritual care for the past 34 years. Florence has also recently begun a two-year term as chair of CASC Southwest Ontario where she represents approximately 100 spiritual care providers/chaplains and psycho-spiritual counselors.

Part of GRH’s role in the community includes the ongoing education of health professionals. Florence is helping lead spiritual care interns in the hospital. Their internship experience helps them develop their skills and spiritual practices, while providing an important service to patients.

Why is spiritual care so important in a hospital?

Being in the hospital can present as a crisis and because often times a hospital stay is unplanned, it becomes an unexpected crisis.

During times like that, people may need to draw from their spiritual practices and beliefs or just reflect with another person to make sense of the situation. Spiritual care is available in the hospital to meet that need or facilitate connection with relevant community support as needed.

Having spiritual care in the hospital provides individuals and families the option and access to immediate spiritual support at a challenging time.

How long has GRH welcomed spiritual care interns into the hospital?

GRH has a history of hosting spiritual care interns dating back to 1971 and have recently resumed the practice in 2012; that is when I began the supervisory education program at Cambridge Memorial Hospital (CMH) and welcomed the first two students at GRH.

In 2013 and 2014, under a joint program with CMH and St. Mary’s General Hospital (SMGH), we welcomed even more students.

The plan was to successfully complete my supervisory education program and apply for program approval for GRH as a centre. Approval was granted in January of 2016.

What’s different about our plan to welcome this group of interns compared to previous years?

This group is the first group of interns to be welcomed to GRH as an approved centre of CASC and supervised by myself as a Certified Associate Supervisor with CASC.

A team from the CASC Accreditation Committee will plan a visit to the GRH centre shortly after the completion of this program to evaluate GRH for accreditation (GRH is an approved centre working towards becoming an accredited centre).

What will the interns learn and do with us in their time here?

There are specific competencies outlined by CASC for basic and advanced clinical pastoral education (CPE) learners, this group of interns will have the opportunity to develop specific competencies, including becoming more aware and demonstrating that awareness in their own personhood in the practice of spiritual care.

They will also utilize the individual and group supervision for personal and professional growth, and for developing the capacity to evaluate their own spiritual practices.

How will this help them gain experience as a spiritual care provider?

They will develop the ability to utilize experiential methods of learning as they integrate the learnings of theology, spiritual/religious theories and the social and human sciences in understanding the human experience within interdisciplinary context.

How will having these interns help patients?

The goal is to apply the skills learned on education/group days in their visits with patients and families. The expectation is that their ongoing growth and development will be reflected in their provision of exceptional, person-centred, compassionate care and their presence will increase the coverage of spiritual care.

Who will be helping to support and mentor the interns?

As the supervisor of the unit, I work with all staff in the spiritual care department and will be available for support and guidance to these interns. There is also an advisory committee drawn from a multidisciplinary team of diverse programs in the hospital and community partners. The committee members are available to offer support as needed.

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