Integrating Spiritual Care into Maternity Care at a University Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret, Kenya
Challenges, Lessons and Way Forward
Keywords:Hospital chaplains, clinical pastoral education and care, quality of care, holistic healthcare, self-empowerment
Spiritual needs of care seekers, families and caregivers are ignored in maternity care in health facilities in Kenya. The quality of care remains poor with unacceptable maternal and neonatal mortalities. The Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) Project at the College of Health Sciences of Moi University Eldoret, Kenya, aimed to integrate spiritual care into maternity care at The Riley Mother and Baby Hospital of The Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH), Eldoret, Kenya, in order to provide holistic healthcare. In phase I, spiritual needs of mothers of neonates admitted to the Newborn Unit at the MTRH in Eldoret, Kenya, were assessed using a research protocol with modified North America validated tools (see Appendix) and unstructured interview guides. For phase II, hospital chaplains, trained using a Moi University post-graduate diploma curriculum for clinical pastoral education and care, were engaged as spiritual caregivers at the Hospital. In phase III, the same tools were used to re-assess spiritual needs after introducing spiritual care. This article presents challenges and progress made, lessons learnt from the CPE Project and knowledge gaps identified from the study. Baseline data showed lack of trained hospital chaplains and inadequate spiritual care at the Teaching and Referral hospital despite great need by patients, caregivers and families. Lack of precise definitions, theoretical and conceptual frameworks for spirituality in literature emerged as a challenge. The Kenya Chaplaincy Training Centre was initiated at the hospital to train hospital chaplains and healthcare providers who could provide spiritual care. A psychobiosocial conceptual framework, utility tools and a new theory for self-empowerment were proposed to address knowledge gaps in current literature.
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