The right to practice one's religion is a right even for those living in nursing homes.

This article is written from a Swedish perspective but can hopefully be inspiring for those interested from other countries.

Promoting spiritual well-being in nursing homes is an important part of care and can involve creating meaningful devotions based on the residents' individual wishes and faith. By offering different forms of religious or spiritual practice, nursing homes can support the residents' well-being and create a sense of community and belonging. Here are some tips for how staff at nursing homes can provide the residents with the conditions to participate in devotions based on their faith and needs.

Foto: Mostphotos

The Right to Participate in Worship

Some nursing homes have some form of religious affiliation. A number of nursing homes are run by diaconal institutions, Jewish congregations, and others. If you belong to the Church of Sweden, you probably have relatively good opportunities to participate in services at most nursing homes. But how about those who are Catholic, Syrian, Muslim or belong to some free church. Are they given the opportunity to participate in any services?

For those who do not live in a large city, the selection is worse. There may only be one nursing home to choose from. A nursing home with ambitions to meet the residents' wishes can find solutions. Today, there are also webcast services. If there is a wish, it may be possible to connect a service on the TV. The resident's congregation can surely provide tips.

One option is to visit the resident's congregation together with the contact person during their own time. Another way is to help the resident contact the congregation. Then perhaps the deacon, priest or imam can come to the residence for a visit. Talking about faith and religion can also be important to know how the resident wants it when life is nearing its end. This can be especially important if there are no relatives.

To know if the resident has a wish to participate in worship times and which congregation the resident belongs to, the contact person must ask the question. This should be included in the getting-to-know conversations that take place in connection with moving in.

If the resident so wishes, staff or relatives can contact the resident's congregation to tell about the move to the nursing home. Some congregations may have diaconal activities where they visit congregation members who, for example, live in nursing homes.
If conditions permit, representatives of different faiths can also come and hold worship times at the nursing home. There may also be books, music, and other things that support the believer's spiritual needs and traditions.

It is important to respect the resident's choice when worship is offered at the nursing home. Worship is not just any activity, but also ensure that the worship can be held in a respectful atmosphere.

By creating an environment where residents feel respected and supported in their faith, nursing home staff can promote spiritual well-being and quality of life among the elderly.

For some, spiritual songs and hymn singing can also be a comfort.

Reflection questions - worship
Care staff:
- Do you have residents who are religious?
- How can you help them practice their religion?

Manager, nurse, occupational therapist and physiotherapist:
- How do you view the practice of religion in the nursing home?
- Do you have any responsibility to enable or is it entirely up to the resident and the congregation?
- Are there suitable spaces for those who wish to have a worship time with the residents?

Residents and relatives:
- Does the nursing home offer good support for those who wish to practice their religion?

Erland Olsson
Specialist Nurse
Better care every day

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