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Assessing spirituality and spiritual care needs of elderly people living in aged care facilities

Price, Marilyn (2016) Assessing spirituality and spiritual care needs of elderly people living in aged care facilities. Masters by Coursework thesis, Murdoch University.

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Australians are now able to live longer due to scientific and medical technology advances and improved economic conditions, but, ironically, such benefits do not necessarily guarantee that, as we age, we will all be able to support and maintain ourselves financially, physically, mentally or socially. Residential aged care facilities provide safe accommodation and a range of care services for elderly people for whom remaining in their own homes is not viable. Although some of these facilities provide religious and pastoral care in addition to personal, medical and therapy services, research has indicated that the ‘spiritual care’ dimension of holistic aged care services in Australia is either absent, or given low priority. Spiritual care overarches religious and pastoral care, and is therefore as essential a dimension of holistic care as are its medical, psychological, psychosocial, familial and emotional dimensions.

This research project was undertaken with residents of aged care facilities in Perth, Western Australia, as an assessment of the participants’ understanding and presence of spirituality, and to determine whether their spiritual and religious needs are being met. The results showed that the participants are generally representative of their generation in their affiliations with Christian denominations, worship practices and traditions, with their perceptions of the concepts of ‘spirituality’ and ‘religion’ either being confused, or couched in terms of their religious backgrounds and experiences. The majority of participants was found to possess a stoical desire to withstand encroaching debility and loss of independence, while remaining optimistic, keeping occupied, and endeavouring to identify the meaning and purpose within their lives. Most participants expressed contentment with, and acceptance of, the current living arrangements, level of care, and religious and spiritual support provided within their aged care facilities.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters by Coursework)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Arts
Supervisor(s): Ault, Nancy
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