Hear to Care: The role of caregivers in the spiritual care of residents in New Zealand Rest Homes
This thesis argues that caregivers are exposed to the spiritual needs of rest home residents much more than might have previously been recognised, and that they are a more important part of the matrix of spiritual care than has been understood or acknowledged. By employing a qualitative research methodology, staff, residents and management at two rest homes in the greater Wellington region were interviewed to address the question: to what extent and in what ways is spiritual care a part of the caregiver role in New Zealand rest homes? The research explores current understandings and perceptions of the caregivers' role in attending to the spiritual needs of the residents by addressing a key set of related questions that arise from consideration of the rest home milieu. The research indicates that the move into a rest home is a turning point in the life of the residents. The changes involved in this transition may lead to a spiritual search for meaning, and to questioning that arises from a sense of being in transition from life to death. In the course of daily work, caregivers, as members of the team that provides holistic care, therefore relate to residents who are experiencing various spiritual challenges associated with rest home life and the vulnerability of ageing. Caregivers' confidence to respond to residents' spiritual needs was explored. The thesis suggests that there would be value in extending caregiver training to strengthen their capacity to recognise and respond to spiritual issues when they occur in the course of their work. Such training is seen as important if provision of care in rest homes for the aged population in New Zealand is to be truly holistic.