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Seminar highlights need for spiritual care


Brigid Veale
25 October 2006
Is death a spiritual experience? Do health care workers have a duty of care to look after their patients’ spiritual wellbeing?

These are some of the questions to be discussed at a public seminar on the meaning and relevance of spirituality at Southern Cross University’s Coffs Harbour campus on Thursday, November 9.

The seminar is being organised by Anna Bloemhard, project officer with the Mid North Coast Division of General Practice and a Masters student in Southern Cross University’s School of Arts and Social Sciences. It is supported by the Coffs Harbour Students’ Association and the Aged Services Learning and Research Collaboration (ASLaRC).

The guest speaker will be Dr Bruce Rumbold, a senior lecturer and acting director of the Palliative Care Unit at La Trobe University. He holds postgraduate qualifications in physics, pastoral care and health social science and has a particular focus on spiritual care.

In 2005 Dr Rumbold was awarded an OAM for services to the community in pastoral and palliative care, particularly as an educator.

Ms Bloemhard, who is in the final stage of a research project looking at spirituality in aged and palliative care, said the seminar was part of a project supported by the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing.

“My role as project officer is to raise awareness of spirituality in palliative and aged care,” Ms Bloemhard said.

“People are a bit unsure about what spiritual care really is. It needs to be differentiated from religion. It is totally non-denominational.”

She said many people at the end of their life had questions about the purpose of their life, but did not always want to speak to traditional clergy.

“Health care givers are already giving spiritual care, but there is not really a language for it. It is difficult to describe what it really is,” she said.

In addition to the public seminar, workshops are also being held for health care professionals and general practitioners.

The talk will be held on Thursday, November 9, from 7pm to 8.30pm in the D Block lecture theatre, Southern Cross University Coffs Harbour campus.

For information about the seminar email Anna Bloemhard on [email protected]