Culturally appropriate spiritual support assists care recipients to express their unique spirituality in an open and non-judgemental environment by helping them to maintain important practices, beliefs and networks.
Identifying current and desired practices and beliefs will assist you to meet the needs of your care recipients from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds; simply asking to which religion a person belongs does not adequately determine spiritual needs.
The religious beliefs of some of your care recipients may require strict adherence to ritual and influence all aspects of their daily life. The needs of your care recipients may also change over time; some people may become more aware of and interested in spiritual matters, perhaps for the first time in their lives.
Regular reviews of your care recipients' spiritual needs will ensure the support you provide is relevant to their needs.
An understanding of particular religious practices and beliefs will assist you in the provision of culturally appropriate spiritual support. However, it is always important to identify individual needs and preferences and not assume that all people who speak the same language practice the same religion, or that all people following the same religion practice the same rituals or share the same beliefs.
- Identify and support the spiritual needs of your care recipients, including current and desired practices and beliefs, and schedule regular reviews.
- Conduct assessments and reviews of spiritual needs in the preferred language of your care recipients.
- Ensure the impact of religion on all services, including health and personal care and food services, is documented and strictly followed.
- Provide facilities for a variety of religious and spiritual observances in the living environment of your facility.
- Assist care recipients to maintain existing religious networks.
- Ensure your care recipients have access to appropriate religious representation.
- Establish contact with representatives of local religious organisations who share the religion and language of your care recipients.
- Facilitate outings to places of worship.
- Acknowledge and observe days of religious significance to your care recipients in a culturally appropriate manner.
- Ensure that resources are available in the preferred language of your care recipients to support their spiritual needs – eg DVDs, CDs and books.
- Ensure your care recipients have access to culturally appropriate emotional support.
- Ensure that staff responsible for spiritual support have been trained in cultural awareness and appropriate communication.
Additional Resources and Links
- Religions and Beliefs
This section of the BBC website looks at a range of religions and beliefs, and explores their history, holy days, ethics, practices, rites and rituals and more.
- An Outline of Different Cultural Beliefs at the Time of Death
Loddon Mallee Regional Palliative Care Consortium
This resource looks at the different religious beliefs surrounding death and dying and what funeral or burial rituals may be undertaken.
- Spirituality in Aged Care Project- Final Evaluation Report, April 2011
Irene Nolan and Terry Mills, Healthcare Chaplaincy Council of Victoria Inc. (HCCV), Bendigo Health, 2011
- Dying, Death and Grieving - a Cultural Perspective: Conference Report
Australian Multicultural Foundation, 2002
- Buddhist Care for the Dying (PDF 422kb)
Buddhist Council of Victoria
- Healthcare Providers' Handbook on Muslim Patients
Islamic Council of Queensland
This handbook covers a range of topics including prayer, holy days, fasting, end of life issues, sexual and reproductive health, and food requirements.
- 2012 Multicultural Aged Care Calendar
- 2012 Calendar of Cultural & Religious Dates
Australian Government Department of Immigration & Citizenship
Key cultural and religious events, festivals and national days.
- 2012 Interfaith Calendar
Victorian Multicultural Commission
Highlights specific dates of celebrations across faiths.
Use our National Resources Search for additional resources and links including resources developed under the Community Partners Program (CPP) and the Partners in Culturally Appropriate Care (PICAC) Initiative.