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People experiencing difficult or challenging times as a hospital patient or resident of personal care home, or anyone living with serious medical issues can really use compassionate, relationship–based care on their healing journey. In these instances, spiritual care is often seen as an effective means to help in times of illness and vulnerability. To meet the ongoing need for spiritual care throughout the region, Interlake–Eastern Regional Health Authority (IERHA) is offering its Spirit of Caring course this spring to people who are interested in volunteering with the program.

The nine–week program will be offered virtually so registrants will be trained from the comfort of their home. Training will be offered once a week and it covers areas such as understanding suffering and compassion, trauma and crisis, communication and spiritual development. Participants will be able to interact with the program leader, Ferdinand Funk, who is IERHA’s regional spiritual health services coordinator.

“This is a course that will build the capacity and increase self–awareness of the participants to engage in the practice of spiritual care, particularly in changing situations such as might occur in a health-care setting,” says Funk. “We welcome those interested in the spiritual aspect of life in general, and in health care particularly, and with the goal of becoming a spiritual care volunteer with the IERHA. This course prepares volunteers to accompany and support people in a health-care setting in a respectful, caring and compassionate way.”

Prior to joining IERHA, Funk had been a pastor for more than 20 years. He has served as a board member with Bethania Group for four years and for 13 years he was the organization’s director of spiritual care and chaplain.

In addition to helping patients find their peace, inner strength and courage, Funk says training participants often take many other positives away from the experience.

“They gain insight and expand their ability to care for themselves, their colleagues, and the patients and families they serve,” Funk says. “They experience a renewed sense of being part of a health-care community called to care for those in their greatest times of need. We invite all who are interested to learn to walk alongside and support these many patients and residents.”

For more information or to register, please call or email Ferdinand Funk, 204-461-3414 or [email protected]. Please advise if you would like to participate but don’t have the means to connect virtually. Efforts will be made to accommodate all interested participants where possible. Registration deadline is Friday, April 14 with the course to begin on Wednesday, April 19.

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