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Spiritual Care


Spiritual care is defined as actions to meet the spiritual needs of the patient and family. The focus of assessment is the patient and family beliefs about health, illness and healing related to their spiritual beliefs, and how these beliefs blend with the western bio-medical curing model. The patient may accept that their disease is from Allah, and cure is predestined however they still have an obligation to seek medical treatment. While accepting medical treatment, there is a need to be supported in using religious healing practices, such as reading from the Qur’an, use of prayer, and religious supplications.

Support for prayer is a key nursing action. Patients must pray or read the Qur’an before undergoing procedures, for example surgical operations, giving treatment (such as chemotherapy), in-vitro-fertilization, and radiology procedures. The nurse facilitates prayer by giving the patient notice of the timing of the procedure, or delaying the procedure until prayers are completed. The patient may request that the nurse prays for or with the patient, whether or not the nurse shares the same religious beliefs. The patient may need guidance on the direction for prayer (facing Mecca) or alternative prayer positions if unable to kneel..

The nurse can also support the patient and family by ensuring the Qur’an and prayer mat is available in the patient’s room. The Qur’an is a holy book, so extreme care must be taken to ensure that no object is placed on the Qur’an, and out of respect, a non-Muslim is requested not to touch the holy book.

Use of religious words during nursing care and procedures is another spiritual caring action. Saying the word “Bismallah” (in the name of Allah) before doing any procedure (such as starting an intravenous, drawing blood, giving medication) is a caring action that establishes trust and connection between the nurse and patient, regardless of whether the nurse is Muslim or non-Muslim. Using the words “Inshallah” (if God is willing) that what will happen is based on the will of God. This concept makes Muslim patients accept the future based on “what will happen is set by Allah”. Nurses may need to accommodate family requests to use holy water (zamzam water) in the care of patients, such as wiping the body, when giving medication, and when flushing gastric feeding tubes. It is important to know that “zamzam” water is high in phospates, so intake may need to be limited in certain cases such as renal failure.

Spiritual caring actions are very important during end of life care. Reciting the Ash shahada (the profession of faith) by a Muslim at end of life for the dying patient is the most important caring action. Other actions include reading of the Qur’an, wiping the body with holy (zamzam) water, and saying special religious supplications

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