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Register for the Spirit of Caring Course
During critical times of suffering, trauma or loss, spiritual health can play a vital role in helping patients find their peace, inner strength and courage. It is during these moments of uncertainty that patients may need to regain their spiritual focus, recover their sense of purpose and reconnect with their beliefs. 

Interlake-Eastern Regional Health Authority’s spiritual health services program is looking for volunteers to walk alongside residents and patients of personal care homes and acute care hospitals with hope, respect, care and compassion. The Spirit of Caring course is a nine week course that prepares volunteers to accompany and support people in a health care setting. 

Kim Thiessen, regional spiritual health services coordinator, serving the east side of the regional health authority, explained spiritual care offers holistic healing. It is the activity of devoting presence, attention and respectful assistance to people and helping them discern the meaning in life now—in this time and place― perhaps in the midst of a health crisis. 

“In a health care setting, spiritual care promotes spiritual, emotional and psychological healing, and works in partnership with health care professionals. It is understood that a caring relationship in itself has a positive outcome, even without reference to any belief system or religious practice,” said Thiessen.

Participants are invited to learn practical applications of spirituality in a variety of situations in health care, including how to recognize, respect and support a spiritual need, and how to attend to spiritual distress, conflict and dilemma in themselves and others. Participants will also explore the diversity of spiritual traditions, beliefs, cultures and many more themes.

Bonnie Murray, a spiritual health volunteer based in Oakbank, said the course was a commitment well worth her time. She learned from the coordinators, guest speakers and the class group through discussions of different perspectives and life experiences.

“I personally came away with a clearer understanding of spirituality and the importance of caring for our own spirit/self as well as that of others,” said Murray. “Spiritual care in the health system is so very important because that is usually when people are their most vulnerable. While we aren’t expected to have all the answers or fix anything for them, being an empathetic and supportive presence is what we can do for them.”

The course is a pre-requisite for spiritual health services volunteers. It runs from March 23 until May 25 as follows:
                Stonewall: Mar. 23 & 30; Apr. 27 & May 4; May 25
                Beausejour: Apr. 6 & 20; May 11 & 18
                Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

The deadline to register is February 28. There is a $100 fee (no cost for spiritual health services volunteers). For details and to register contact Kim Thiessen at 204-268-7426 or kthiessen@ierha.ca.

About Interlake-Eastern RHA’s Spiritual Health Services 
Spiritual Health Services’ objective is to advance the integration of spiritual care in health care through education, promotion, and clinical practice in order to facilitate healing, improve patient experience and satisfaction and to help people faced with illness, suffering and grief find comfort and meaning―whoever they are, whatever they believe, wherever they are. There are currently two spiritual care coordinators serving the east and west side of the Interlake.
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