Consumer Enablement Guide

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Spiritual and Religious Diversity

Religious and spiritual beliefs can be a personal determinant of enablement. They can also influence components of enablement.

  • Religious and spiritual understanding and beliefs about medicine and healthcare may support or conflict with evidence-based medicine.
  • Beliefs about fate and free will can affect how willing or motivated a person is to engage with treatment or preventative care.
  • A person’s faith can affect their psychological wellbeing.
  • A religious or spiritual community or family can affect relational components of enablement such as how supported the person is to look after their health.

When you are supporting people to become more enabled you might need to consider their religious beliefs in relation to the approaches you take.

  • Religion can influence a person’s healthcare priorities and preferences in shared decision making.
  • Older people are more likely to have religious beliefs.
  • Religion can be very important for end of life planning and palliative care as faith often determines how someone wishes to die including who should be there, rituals or rites that should happen, and funeral and burial or cremation arrangements.
  • Advance care planning directives might include a person’s wishes based on their faith, such as whether they would want a blood transfusion or to donate their organs.
  • Culturally responsive practice means being respectful of different beliefs and values and being responsive to how these affect people’s healthcare needs, even if they are different to your own beliefs and values.
  • Peer support relationships are often strengthened when people have other things in common apart from their illness or condition, such as shared religious beliefs.

For advice and assistance in meeting people’s spiritual needs you can contact Aboriginal Liaison Officers, multicultural health services and managers, and hospital chaplains.