Kenya Hospices and Palliative Care Association (KEHPCA), the umbrella body for hospices and palliative care in Kenya, partnered with the American Cancer Society through SOURCE program, to undertake 3 day spirituality training at Nairobi Baptist church last week starting from 1st -3rd August 2018. The training was informed as a result of high demand and identified knowledge gap in this field.

Provision of palliative care requires holistic approach; physical, social, spiritual and psychological. It is provided to both adults and children faced with life threatening illness and their families who support them. For many patients, spirituality provides the foundation and support that enables them to move from dissonance and brokenness to a sense of wellbeing and wholeness. In this context, “healing” is more than a technical cure or fix – it becomes part of a life journey and that is why the training on spirituality is deemed as important

The main aim for the training was to share knowledge and skills to healthcare workers and non-healthcare workers on how to respond and address spiritual needs of patients when faced with trauma, ill-health and sadness.

Spiritual care is about active listening and involves three other main aspects which include, being compassionate, getting spiritual history and giving attention to all dimensions,’ Said Dr. Dinah Chelagat, one of the facilitators during the training. She is also the dean, School of nursing at the Moi University College of health sciences.

In addition to that, it was discussed that Spirituality can influence whether a patient will comply with treatment. Patients may be non-religious but still spiritual since spirituality is a dynamic and intrinsic of humanity through which a person seeks ultimate meaning, purpose and transcendence while religion is an organized belief system that attempts to provide specific answers to a person’s general spiritual needs.

The training was attended by different people from various domains being healthcare workers, non-healthcare workers and even religious leaders.

There were recommendations from the team for KEHPCA to continue organizing such interesting and important trainings in future in order to equip healthcare workers with the necessary skills and knowledge on how to care for patients’ spiritual needs.

This is the second training to be organized by KEHPCA since 2016; there are plans to arrange many more trainings in future due to many requests. Lastly, a quote from Dr. Christina Puchalski, a professor of medicine and health sciences.

“You can’t practice excellent patient care, if you don’t practice excellent spiritual care”.

Participants’ feedback after the training-Quotes

“I feel motivated after this training and I feel like a new person”

“This training has been a great eye-opener”

“It is the most significant training I have attended this year”

“I urge KEHPCA to continue creating this kind of opportunities in future”

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