Standard 8 banner

Standard 8.1

The spiritual needs of people affected by cancer are proactively considered and addressed along the journey or at each intervention point.


Standard 8.2

Systems are in place to ensure people affected by cancer and their whānau are fully informed of their right to be cared for in a manner which is in agreement with their spiritual beliefs.


  Equity: Person centred care requires a health system which supports an inclusion of spiritual care




Increasingly wairua and spirituality are being recognised by the health sector as important facets of a person’s well-being that need to be understood. Spirituality is not just about religion. People with cancer have their sense of meaning, identity and sometimes faith challenged.


There is however, strong evidence that if the human elements of compassion and hope, understanding and relationship between carer and cared for are ignored, then we are forgetting and losing a crucial element of the healing process” (NHS, 2009). Health and supportive care workers’ acknowledgement of a spiritually-based issue/need for the person affected by cancer and attention to the existential questions has been shown to improve overall health, both mental and physical. “Patients and physicians have begun to realise the value of elements such as faith, hope and compassion in the healing process” (NHS, 2009)


The spiritual care needs of the workforce are also important as they are integral to maintaining a sense of compassion and hope. A patient’s death, in particular, needs be acknowledged within a workplace and can affect staff in a variety of ways. While it is an expected event in health care it can have a cumulative effect on the workforce. A workforce that pays attention to their own sense of compassion, hope and meaning will be a more responsive workforce to these issues and deliver more responsive care.


Good Practice Points



·        There is an organisational approach to how a need for spiritual care is identified and there is a referral pathway to how this need will be addressed.

·        Health and supportive care workers are encouraged to participate in spiritual awareness education. A level of cultural competency within the health workforce is maintained to ensure they are able to integrate the spiritual beliefs of Māori into care and are aware of where to access additional support.

·        To facilitate the broader needs of people in terms of spirituality, expertise from nga hahi Māori (Māori churches) should be identified and made available.

·        There is the provision of spiritually-enhancing spaces within the buildings of the organisation, including designated space for contemplation and reflection from a religious or spiritual stance.

·        Spaces and time for reflection will increase the health and well-being of the workforce as well as that of the person affected by cancer.

·        People affected by cancer should be asked about their spiritual care needs and guided to the appropriate services.

·        Policies and procedures for cultural safety in relation to Tikanga practices are in place, e.g. the use of karakia before procedures or meetings.

·        People affected by cancer should be able to seek support from their own spiritual advisor, as well as the help offered by the pastoral care services.


Good Practice Points System


·        Spiritual support services are included in relevant health care contracts and service specifications.

·        Research is undertaken to identify effective spiritual support services, interventions and measures that support those affected with cancer, including Māori.




“It was probably that type

of healing, the wairua,

that I didn’t realise

I needed.”

Cancer Stories Aotearoa –

Kahui Korero Taumahatanga o Te Mate Pukupuku



Wairua and Spirituality Banner


·        Ensures those affected by cancer are offered spiritual support at a time they need it.

·        Is familiar with, and knows how to, access both spiritual information resources and spiritual leaders.

·        Is aware of and able to participate in a discussion with the person affected by cancer about their spiritual needs like existential concerns such as mortality.

·        Has an understanding of how their own beliefs and spiritual beliefs may be challenged within the work environment.

·        Maintains a level of cultural competency that ensures they are able to integrate the spiritual beliefs of Māori affected by cancer into care and are aware of where to access additional support.

·        Is able to utilise self-care techniques to ensure that their own sense of hope and compassion is maintained.

·        Has an understanding of the different religious and cultural rites around death and where to access additional advice and assistance.


Training and Resources Available

·        Working with religious diversity.

·        A link to Dr Richard Egan work “What is Spirituality” NZ based work.

·        NHS Education in Scotland. Spiritual Care Matters. An introductory resource for all NHS Scotland Staff (2009). This is an education resource aimed at health staff.