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Treat the whole person: mind, body, spirit

Dr. Leslee B. Cochrane

Special to the Village News

When patients are facing a life-limiting illness, it affects them mentally, physically and spiritually. Hospice care utilizes a multi-disciplinary team approach to address the medical, psychological, emotional and spiritual needs of patients and their families. The Hospice of the Valleys Interdisciplinary Team in Murrieta includes nurses, doctors, social workers, home health aides and chaplains also known as spiritual care counselors.

In an article published in the American Medical Association Journal of Medical Ethics in 2018, authors Dr. Aparna Saia and Dr. Christina Puchalski acknowledged that despite improved education regarding the importance of integrating spirituality and health care, physicians still struggle with this integration. They recognized the importance of including spiritual care providers such as chaplains as members of the interdisciplinary treatment team with the goal that spiritually centered compassionate care should be a key component of any health delivery system.

According to the International Consensus Conference on Improving the Spiritual Dimension of Whole Person Care, spirituality is “a dynamic and intrinsic aspect of humanity through which persons seek ultimate meaning, purpose and transcendence and experience relationship to self, family, others, community, society, nature and the significant or sacred.”

Each person expresses their spirituality in a unique manner through their beliefs, values and traditions.

At Hospice of the Valleys, highly trained spiritual care counselors and social workers assist the Interdisciplinary team in assessing and addressing the spiritual, emotional and psychological needs of patients and their families. By providing spiritually centered compassionate care, the hospice can better achieve pain and symptom control and relieve emotional and spiritual distress, which improves the patient’s comfort and quality of life.

The spiritual care team also continues to provide additional bereavement support to the family for 13 months following the patient’s death in addition to providing community wide bereavement support groups.

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Dr. Leslee B. Cochrane is the executive medical director of Hospice of the Valleys.


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