Improving spiritual care in healthcare settings

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The United Kingdom’s nursing/midwifery regulator, Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), expects registrants to be competent in assessing and delivering spiritual care at the point of registration (Future Nurse Standards (NMC, 2018)). However, there is contradiction between these standards and the NMC Code (2018), where there is no reference to the word ‘spiritual’.

Since 2009, several high-profile cases have ensued where nurses have addressed the NMC professional conduct committee due to inappropriate personal, religious, and spiritual care. These cases further illustrate the need for strengthening understanding, education, and practice in addressing spirituality in healthcare. Since 2008, Professor Wilfred McSherry and Dr Adam Boughey have undertaken research in this area at Staffordshire University in collaboration with Professor Linda Ross at the University of South Wales.


Our research on spiritual education for undergraduate nurses/midwives has improved their ability to deliver holistic, person-centred care. This research has resulted in:

  • Education curriculum change: developed a Spiritual Care Education Standard, comprising four competences, which is now embedded within national and international nursing and midwifery education.
  • Policy change: locally, in the delivery of spiritual care in an NHS Trust, and nationally through integration of the Standard across healthcare education programmes in Wales.
  • Changes in professional practice: influenced healthcare education provider training and standards around professional competence and capability. Contributed to resources for employees in the national health context and improved international practitioners’ ability to provide compassionate care.
  • Establishment of an international network: Enhanced cultural understanding of spirituality and empowered nurses/midwives to respond positively and sensitively to personal, religious and spiritual beliefs of patients.
Enhancing Nurses' Competence in Providing Spiritual Care through Innovative Education and Compassionate Care logo

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