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What's So Big About the 'Little Things': A Phenomenological Inquiry Into the Meaning of Spiritual Care in Dementia

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Although it is widely accepted that spirituality is an important aspect of health and healing in long term care, its meaning and day-to-day implications remain poorly understood. This study explored the meaning of spiritual care from the perspectives of patients living with moderate to severe dementia, their families and their care providers. Using a hermeneutic phenomenological approach, open-ended interviews were conducted in a dementia care unit with 29 participants, including patients, families, RNs, LPNs, and hospital chaplains.

Interviewees were asked to share their stories and insights about spiritual care in dementia. Using hermeneutic analysis, the central theme of ‘little things’ was identified. Recognition and attendance to ‘little things’ promoted patients’ sense of personhood and connectedness to self and others. Barriers to spiritual care in dementia were also identified. These findings inform our understanding about effective relational approaches in spiritual care with this unique population.

Abstract re-printed with permission from Sage Publications, www.sagepub.com

Document Details

  • Document Type: Journal Abstracts; Articles; Research Reports; Evaluations
  • Publication Date: Monday, 01 August 2011
  • Author(s): Tracy J. Carr, Sandee Hicks-Moore, Phyllis Montgomery