Spending time in hospital, especially if you have a serious illness, can be a difficult experience both for patients, their friends, and family. Feeling a sense of loss, bereavement, and hopelessness is something that many people struggle with, regardless of their beliefs. As such, we recognise the need for holistic care, which involves tending to the pastoral or what some call the ‘spiritual’ needs of patients – an essential aspect of human well-being.
Given that between a quarter and half of the population have no religion, there is a clear need for non-religious pastoral support in health care. This has been largely overlooked, with the vast majority of support workers and volunteers being religious. While they can still visit non-religious patients, we believe that it is imperative the non-religious have access to care by those who share their beliefs during challenging periods in their lives.
Humanist Care therefore aims to provide non-religious patients and their friends and family with access to pastoral support which reflects their worldview, by placing trained non-religious volunteers in hospitals and hospices.