Religion and patient care: the functionalist approach This paper offers an ideal type process which considers any patient, his intimates and hospital chaplain in the wider setting of personal care. It calls attention to an important aspect of patient care which offers a starting point from which to begin assessing the needs of any patient from a complementary perspective. The paper reveals two important consequences of the features of any patient situation for the structuring of whole patient care. The first is that the ill person can be susceptible to certain fundamental characteristics which bring him face-to-face with situations in which established practices display an insufficiency for providing mechanisms of adjustment. The second is that spiritual support can be a most important mechanism of adjustment to the aleatory and frustrating facts of these basic characteristics of the patient's existence. Also, it is not only that the ill person may have a need to be helped in this way, but that the appropriate general pattern of action in regard to the source of help is often related to evaluation by nursing and other health service personnel–who are inexpert in this field of care–of the general requirements of any patient situation. This evaluation may have important consequences regarding the completeness of patient care.