Objective: In this study, we attempted to explore the views of mentally ill elderly and their caregivers, on spiritual care provision.
Materials and Methods: A purposive (non probabilistic) sample of 15 patients was selected from those attending the Old Age Mental Health Resource Centre. A semi-structured interview was conducted in a one to one basis. This involved note taking and tape recording. Changes in intonation and non-verbal cues were taken into account.
A modified caregiversí questionnaire (adapted from Nathan 97) was posted out to 49 informal caregivers (mainly relatives) and 65 professionals who work in mental health services for older people.
Data was analysed using the principles of qualitative research.
Results: Patients and their relatives were more interested in the subject than professional caregivers.
To most patients, spiritual care is almost a synonym to religious care that should be provided by religious leaders unlike their caregivers whose views were more complicated and rather heterogeneous. Spiritual care was considered by all groups to be of some potential benefit, although it should be tailored based on individual needs. Health care professionals and informal caregivers are potential assessors and/or providers.
Training needs, although emphasized, were poorly specified.
Conclusion: Patients and caregiversí views need to be taken into account in service development. Elderly mentally ill may have special needs and individuality should be appreciated. This type of care should be offered but not imposed.
Training needs should be appropriately addressed. Building some form of basic skills and knowledge along with developing a specialized area for interested staff may be the way forward.
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