Guide to spiritual needs of staff and patients aims to clear up confusion: the Department of Health has published a handbook for NHS staff about religion

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Date: Jan. 21, 2009
From: Nursing Standard(Vol. 23, Issue 20)
Publisher: Royal College of Nursing Publishing Company (RCN)
Document Type: Article
Length: 1,000 words

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It has been 12 years since healthcare students were given the first 'culturally appropriate' uniforms for NHS staff. The move was considered groundbreaking and recognised that the NHS needs to cater for people differently according to their religious beliefs.

Last week the Department of Health (DH) launched Religion or Belief: a Practical Guide for the NHS, covering everything from clothing to Shamanism.

The comprehensive 66-page document recognises a series of laws and guidance brought in since that first culturally appropriate uniform was invented, including the Equality Act 2006 and the Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006.

DH national director for equality and human rights Surinder Sharma says the guide will help NHS staff at all levels understand the needs of the range of people they treat.

In the guide's foreword, Mr Sharma says: 'Research suggests that attention to the religious and cultural needs of patients and service users can contribute to their wellbeing and, for example, reduce their length of stay in hospital. Religion and belief are therefore Important considerations for all patients and staff.'

The provision of spiritual care in health services was also recognised last year during a service to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the NHS. Michael Perham, Bishop of Gloucester and chair of the Hospital Chaplaincies Council said the NHS needs to protect and extend its provision for spiritual care.

Reverend Perham expressed concern about the declining number of hospital chaplains. He said they provide invaluable spiritual care for people of man! faiths and engaged with...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A193509228