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How staff and patient experience shapes our perception of spiritual care in a psychiatric setting


  • Julian Raffay BSc, BA, MTh

    Chaplain Team Leader, Corresponding author
    1. Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust, Sheffield, UK
    • Correspondence

      Julian Raffay

      Chaplain Team Leader

      Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care Department

      Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust

      Longley Centre

      Norwood Grange Drive

      Sheffield S5 7JT



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To explore how our understanding of care practice is shaped by the extent of our engagement with staff and patient experience.


In spite of the fact that service users desire good spiritual care and that government guidelines recognize its importance, frontline staff in psychiatric settings often find current spiritual assessment tools hard to use and the concept of spirituality difficult to comprehend.


A database search was conducted, the grey literature analysed, spirituality assessment tools were explored, and an approach based on user experience was considered.

Key issues

Each of these four perspectives resulted in different perceptions of care.


By engaging patient and staff experience, we begin to see spiritual care very differently. There may be rich opportunities for research into the lived experience of the support systems that service users create for each other on wards when they experience staff as inaccessible.

Implications for nursing management

Deeper engagement with patients and staff and their concerns is likely to result in breakthroughs in both the understanding and the practice of spiritual care as well as potentially other areas of nursing care.