Spirituality is part of human nature throughout the life span. As people age, it plays an increasingly important role in determining quality of life. Research suggests that spirituality plays a role in both physical and mental health. For elderly people in long-term care, expression of religious faith can present problems for themselves and their caregivers. The long range goal of this project is to educate staff regarding spiritual and religious issues and the benefits of spirituality, and to encourage staff to foster a climate that nurtures spirituality and religious expression.
Specific aims are (1) to investigate both elderly and staff knowledge, attitudes, and practices related to spirituality; (2) to identify specific religious and spiritual issues that need to be addressed through training; (3) to develop program objectives; (4) to develop a valid, reliable measures of staff knowledge, attitudes, and practices; and (5) to design, create, and evaluate training materials. Phase I products will include an annotated bibliography, assessment instruments, and a curriculum guide that will serve as a blueprint for the training materials. Phase II products will include validated materials and assessment instruments. Long-term care facilities can use the instruments independently to evaluate staff knowledge, attitudes, and practices, or to evaluate the instructional materials. Through a field test, we will demonstrate the usefulness of the materials in changing staff knowledge, attitudes, and practices.
Materials to be developed under this grant will be used to train staff in long-term care who provide services to the elderly and people who care for the elderly in the community. Spirituality is a topic for which there are very few training materials available. Because spirituality and religion are important to the elderly, staff need training in this area.