Wander the halls of the continuing carefloor of Fort McMurray’s NorthernLights Regional Health Centre andyou’ll find two rooms dedicated to thespiritual care of patients, families andhealthcare providers. The chapel meetsthe needs of diverse faiths. The medicinewheel room is for smudging ceremonies,drumming circles and other rituals byIndigenous Peoples.
“Spiritual spaces are vital in
addressing the needs of our patients,”
says Denise Wilkinson, the area manager
of Seniors Health for Alberta Health
Services in Fort McMurray. “If someone
has gone to church or had a spiritual
practice their whole lives, it’s like bread
and butter to them.”
Spirituality is a big part of health
for many Albertans. Religious practice
can affect your physical, mental and
Faith ’n’ you
Supporting Albertans’ spiritual
health throughout life
WRITTEN BY ANNE GEORGPHOTOGRAPHED BY LAUGHING DOG PHOTOGRAPHY
emotional well-being. Spiritual healthcan result from religious beliefs andother meaningful activities.
Many services in Alberta’s healthcaresystem help support our spiritual needsat different stages of life––and death.
Here are eight examples:
Hospitals, treatment centres andcontinuing care centres across Albertaoften employ chaplains, who areclinically and theologically trained tosupport individuals and familiesfrom a variety of faiths. This type ofspiritual care can include:
• Assessing and intervening on spiritualconcerns
• 24-hour, on-call support at mosthospitals
• Assisting with rituals and sacraments
• Supporting patients’ and families’decision-making at the end of life
• Collaborating with other religiousleaders at a patient’s or family’srequest
• Researching new types of spiritual andsocial programs
• Serving as a resource to the care teamon communication, religious andcultural awareness, griefand bereavement, and compassionfatigue.
Comfort and counsel
Visitors from religious communities offercomfort and care. Volunteers for theReligious Community Visitor programregister with Alberta Health Services andhelp people in care to access religiouspractices when they’re unable to visittheir mosque, church or temple.
A volunteer prepares to serve lunch to residents at St. Michael’s Long TermCare Centre in Edmonton.