At a Holistic Community Living Home, you will find, in addition to physical and mental care, spiritual care.
Spiritual care is a delicate subject, as the word “spiritual” has different interpretations. Spiritual, in the context of Holistic Community Living, is not referred to as a religious belief, but rather an internal awareness, a sacred connection to oneself, a bond with the soul and the spirit that includes our relationship to ourselves and to the people around us. It also includes a conscious awareness; our moral compass regarding the care and services we provide and how we provide them.
Physical care is more obvious. When you walk into any assisted living facility it doesn’t take long to assess whether or not the residents receive sufficient physical care. You can see, touch, smell, and hear the presence or lack of physical care. Physical care has to do with the body, clothing, cleanliness, physical medications, food, and other physical things.
Mental care is subtler. We can communicate mental constructs with spoken words, pictures, physical gestures, with a web page. However, in order for someone to understand our mental state, especially when we are having trouble articulating our needs, more effort is required. A refined sensitivity is needed to read between the words and/or the silences. And because each resident communicates differently, our staff learns to interpret how each resident communicates, so their response is appropriate.
Emotional care is subtler than mental care. If we want to understand someone’s emotional state, we must look beyond their tears or their smiles and know as much as possible about their recent or not so recent history. And in the absence of strong emotional displays, we are able to detect a message; a sign from their posture, their gaze, or their breathing.
Spiritual care is even subtler. Although we might be able to easily see if someone’s spirits are “up” or “down”, the nature of their spiritual state is more elusive. At the core of this state, is how they are relating to their world at the moment. This relationship at the moment might be one with food, the weather, a loved one, one’s self image, or an object that brings them comfort. Really, it could be anything that has meaning to them and is most important at the moment.
In order to respond significantly to our residents' spiritual needs, we enter into their world, and learn what is important to them and what will help them through their challenges. And of course, we also join them in their joy, which might be as simple as listening to them or holding hands, or reading them a story or allowing them to complete a grieving process.