IF a candidate in the upcoming provincial election knocks on Joan Crabtree’s door, she knows what she wants to talk to them about.
"I’ll ask if they know about the role of spiritual care in health-care facilities, how important it is for the quality of care for residents and patients and how government can support spiritual care in hospitals and long-term care facilities," she said.
For Crabtree, a spiritual care associate at Misericordia Health Centre and chairwoman of the Canadian Association of Spiritual Care, those are important questions.
"Spiritual care is a significant part of health care," she explained. "It’s caring for the whole person, through illness and into death."
During the election — Manitobans go to the polls Sept. 10 — Crabtree is participating in Act in Good Faith, sponsored by the Interfaith Health Care Association of Manitoba.
Through Act in Good Faith, the association wants to inform candidates about the importance of spiritual care in health care, and help voters "make an informed choice about issues that affect faith- and values-based health care."
The association, founded in 1995, represents 30 faith-related health-care facilities and personal care homes belonging to nine faith groups (such as Roman Catholic, Mennonite, Jewish, Lutheran and Seventh-Day Adventist).
Organizations that are part of the association include: Donwood Manor, Luther Home, St. Boniface Hospital, Misericordia Health Centre, Fred Douglas Society, St. Amant, Actionmarguerite, Ste. Rose General Hospital and Winnipegosis & District Health Centre.
The goal is to help its members deliver effective community-based health and social services through advocacy, education, self-governance and the sharing of best practices.
For executive director Julie Turenne-Maynard, this means making sure "candidates are aware of the important role spiritual care plays in health care for all Manitobans."
This includes how spiritual care helps patients and residents cope with illness, and deal with the stress caused by health problems or aging.
Questions the association wants to raise with provincial election candidates include how they would enhance the partnership between faith-based organizations and the government; what their vision is for the health of everyone in Manitoba; and whether they would support an increase in funding for spiritual care services.
Although members receive public funding, many don’t get money for spiritual care, such as chaplains and other services, Turenne-Maynard said.
"They have to do a lot of fundraising to cover needs not met by (the) province."
Through Act in Good Faith, Turenne-Maynard hopes politicians can learn more about how spiritual health care is a "vital component of holistic, person-centred health-care" and "a cost-effective investment."
She also wants to communicate demand for spiritual care services is sure to grow as the number of seniors in the province rises.
"Spiritual care is something almost everyone will need at one time or another," she said, adding good health care isn’t just about "fixing the physical problems. We need to treat the whole person."
Crabtree agrees: "Spiritual health care is (a) significant part of our health. It’s important that people have care provided for that part of themselves in a holistic and pluralistic way."
John Longhurst has been writing for Winnipeg's faith pages since 2003. He also writes for Religion News Service in the U.S., and blogs about the media, marketing and communications at Making the News.
Updated on Tuesday, August 27, 2019 at 9:39 AM CDT: Corrects reference to Fred Douglas Society