Do you have your new Medicare card?

By now everyone should have their new Medicare cards. The new card has a new Medicare number that is unique to you, instead of your Social Security number. The new cards were issued to help protect your identity. CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) has finished mailing the new cards to all the U.S. […]

By now everyone should have their new Medicare cards. The new card has a new Medicare number that is unique to you, instead of your Social Security number. The new cards were issued to help protect your identity. CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) has finished mailing the new cards to all the U.S. states and territories.

What can you do if you have not received your new card?

 Here is a great link on medicare.gov that outlines the steps to take if you don’t have your new card.

  1. CMS suggests that you take a look around your house for old or unopened mail. The new Medicare cards were sent in a plain white envelope from the Department of Health and Human Services.
  2. You can also sign in to gov to get your new number or print your official card. If you have not created an account at MyMedicare.gov, you can sign up for an account.
  3. If you had rather talk directly to someone, call 800-MEDICARE (800-633-4227).
  4. You may not have received your new Medicare card because CMS does not have your correct mailing address or other information. Corrected mailing information can be done online or by calling.
  5. You can still use your old Medicare card to get health care services until January 1, 2020.

Click here to learn more about your Medicare card.

 

 

 

 

Janiva’s Blog: Why you need a health care proxy

Everyone should have a health care proxy, and it’s easier than you think.               Every Christian Scientist should have a health care proxy (also called a durable power of attorney for health care”). Christian Scientists value their right to turn to God in prayer for healing. The proxy allows you to […]

Everyone should have a health care proxy, and it’s easier than you think.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Every Christian Scientist should have a health care proxy (also called a durable power of attorney for health care”).

Christian Scientists value their right to turn to God in prayer for healing. The proxy allows you to decide your choice of care in situations where you cannot speak for yourself. It allows you to set out exactly your wishes for how to be cared for, and in whatever level of detail you want, should there be a need.

Four simple steps to a health care proxy

 If you have put off executing a health care proxy, here are 4 simple steps to take right now.

1

CHOOSE AN AGENT

People often choose a family member or close friend who understands their wishes concerning health care and is willing to act for them.

2

SECURE A FORM FROM YOUR STATE OR ATTORNEY

There are multiple sources for health care proxies.

 

3

SELECT AN OPTION FOR YOUR SITUATION

For instance, the Massachusetts proxy on our website has 3 options:

4

SIGN, FILE & DISTRIBUTE

You should make at least four photocopies. Keep the original for yourself where it can be found easily (not a safe-deposit box).

CHOOSE AN AGENT

People often choose a family member or close friend who understands their wishes concerning health care and is willing to act for them.

If you have any questions, please let me know. And even if you have an executed a Health Care Proxy, it’s a good idea to review it yearly for any updates.

Related links

Advance directives and health care proxy  

A simple gift for you and your family  

Alison Alioto talks health care proxies  

Why every Christian Scientist should have a health care proxy  

You need a health care proxy – 3 tips  

Take our health care proxy quiz  

Can you afford Christian Science nursing?

Every day many Christian Scientists dismiss the idea of calling upon Christian Science nursing because they think they can’t afford it. And that should never happen! No one should ever delay calling on this healing ministry when they need help with a challenge  because of the fear of the cost. I thought it would be […]

Janiva's blog logoEvery day many Christian Scientists dismiss the idea of calling upon Christian Science nursing because they think they can’t afford it. And that should never happen! No one should ever delay calling on this healing ministry when they need help with a challenge  because of the fear of the cost.

I thought it would be helpful to bring this issue forward and discuss the costs and the options for paying for Christian Science nursing. My hope is that more individuals will feel comfortable asking questions, and that they won’t hesitate to take the next steps regarding their care.

How much does Christian Science nursing cost?

There are so many aspects to the question of the cost of Christian Science nursing. Is it 24-hour care in a facility? Is it a short visit by a visiting Christian Science nurse or a private duty Christian Science nurse? And in what part of the country? Is the service covered by insurance, Medicare, or benevolence?

BA_CSNA-MAY2016-224A quick check on the website for the Association of Organizations for Christian Science Nursing (AOCSN) and I found the following rates from around the U.S.:

  • Visiting Christian Science Nursing Services – Rates range from $40 – $80 per hour. One gave the first visit free and another asked for a donation in lieu of charging. Financial assistance and benevolence is usually available. Some visiting services may not be covered by insurance.
  • Inpatient Christian Science nursing charges, including room and board, In a facility – Rates range from $140 per day for light Christian Science nursing to $1,280 per day for skilled care. Financial assistance and benevolence is usually available at facilities. Some inpatient services may be covered by insurance and Medicare.

Private duty Christian Science nursing – These rates are not published, but I understand the rates generally range from $350 – $650 per day.  Private duty Christian Science nursing care is not covered by Medicare, and it is usually not covered by insurance.

Short stays vs. longer stays – what are the implications?051204_residents_cs-nursing_hi_0084

Of the eight Christian Science nursing facilities where I could easily access their rates, the average for lighter Christian Science nursing care averaged $227 per day. And for skilled care it averaged $689 daily. If you were at a facility for only one week, the charges would be $1,823 and $5,513 respectively. And while that is costly, it might be possible for many to pay for a week’s stay. However, when a challenge is not met immediately and a longer stay is needed, the monthly charges at these same rates are $6,810 (lighter) and $20,670 (skilled).

These rates are a surprise to most Christian Scientists, maybe even a shock. So let’s look at options for paying for care.

Options for payment?

I’m going to focus on options for payment for Christian Science nursing in a facility. As you can see from the costs listed above, these are significant costs, and can seem overwhelming to those considering calling upon Christian Science nursing. In a Christian Science facility you have many options for payment: insurance (including Medicare, and in a few facilities, Medicaid), scheduled payments, and benevolence/financial assistance.

  • Private or employer insurance – You’re probably aware that coverage for Christian Science nursing in a facility is difficult to find. There is some coverage available. A great source of information on this is Insurance and Christian Science at christianscience.com or the BA’s Health Care page.
  • Medicare can be a great option for payment for those who qualify. The BA has good information on Medicare for Christian Scientists and here is a list of Medicare providers on The Commission’s website.
  • Benevolence/financial assistance – Most Christian Science nursing facilities offer some form of assistance for those who are unable to pay all or a portion of their charges.

BA_CSNA-MAY2016-197The Christian Science nursing facilities are aware that cost can be a huge hurdle for an individual. And they are prepared to help in a number of ways. They may have an option for scheduled payments over a longer period of time. I’ve already mentioned benevolence, which may be available for most, or a portion, of your costs, if you do not have the ability to pay.

Good News!

The good news is that a number of Christian Scientists and organizations are working to provide more and better options for payment.

  • You may have heard that there is currently work on a National Benevolence Fund for Christian Science nursing.
  • The Christian Science Provider Network is a nonprofit network created so patients will have access to Christian Science care through their health plan.
  • The Christian Science Committee on Publication U.S. Federal Office has been working to increase the availability of insurance options that cover Christian Science nursing and practitioner treatment.

You are not alone!

I think it is fair to say that every Christian Science nurse, visiting service and facility wants to help you access the care that you need. And they are prepared to talk with you about the options that I have listed as well as answer your specific questions about costs and payments.

Next steps?

  • Check out information on your nearest Christian Science nursing facility or visiting service. Here is a link: The Commission. Then call or email the nearest facility with your questions.
  • Check out Healthcare and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) at Christianscience.com
  • Check out insurance with Christian Science coverage and Medicare on the BA’s Health Care page
  • Have a Health Care Proxy to ensure that your choice of care is honored

I would love to hear from you on this topic of the cost of Christian Science nursing. Please let me know if you know of other resources or information that I haven’t mentioned. And if you have questions, please contact me.

e-mail   jtoler@chbenevolent.org

phone   617-734-5600 ext 2124

 

How much do you know about health care proxies?

If you would like to know more about health care proxies, here is some additional information. Every Christian Scientist should have a health care proxy. The proxy allows you to decide your choice of care in situations where you cannot speak for yourself. It allows you to set out exactly your wishes for how to be […]

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If you would like to know more about health care proxies, here is some additional information.

Every Christian Scientist should have a health care proxy. The proxy allows you to decide your choice of care in situations where you cannot speak for yourself. It allows you to set out exactly your wishes for how to be cared for, and in whatever level of detail you want, should there be a need. Click here for other important reasons to have a proxy and for a sample proxy document.

Christian Scientists value their right to turn to God in prayer for healing. But if there’s a situation where you cannot speak for yourself, a Health Care Proxy allows you to name someone you trust to make health care decisions for you. Without a proxy, your specific health care wishes may not be carried out. Each state has different policies in place regarding what happens when no Health Care Proxy has been named. In some cases it may be the physician or the state that would be required to make health care decisions for you.

Many people assume that without a Health Care Proxy, the nearest relative can speak for an individual, but this is often not the case. In Massachusetts, for example, only the Health Care Proxy has the legal authority to make health care decisions on another’s behalf.

In this audio clip, Monty Haas asks Alison Alioto, Director of the BA’s Visiting Christian Science Nursing Service, about Health Care Proxies. Alison provides some surprising answers.

Once you have decided to execute a health care proxy, here are 3 great tips on how to find sources for a proxy, how to communicate with your health care agent, and where to distribute your copies.

 

A Simple Gift for Yourself, and Your Family

One of the most loving gifts you can give to yourself, and to your friends and family, is to prepare or update your Health Care Proxy (Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care). For Christian Scientists — this is so very important because it allows you to determine your choice of care if you are […]

The post A Simple Gift for Yourself, and Your Family appeared first on www.chbenevolent.org.

Janiva's blog logoOne of the most loving gifts you can give to yourself, and to your friends and family, is to prepare or update your Health Care Proxy (Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care). For Christian Scientists — this is so very important because it allows you to determine your choice of care if you are not able to speak for yourself.

Whether you consider it a holiday gift to yourself or your family, or a New Year’s resolution, now is the time to follow through on executing a Health Care Proxy for yourself. And it is really a simple process. Here are the 4 Simple Steps.

If you don’t have a Health Care Proxy, here is a great place to start. Do You Have a Health Care Proxy?

And here is an audio clip with Alison Alioto, Director of the Visiting Christian Science Nursing Service, talking about the importance of Health Care Proxies.

The BA’s website has a sample Health Care Proxy for Massachusetts which includes language that Christian Scientists might want to use.  We also include information on how to find samples for your state.

Let me know if I can answer any questions about Health Care Proxies.   You can use the comment section below or reach me directly at jtoler@chbenevolent.org or 617-975-2524 (my direct number).

The post A Simple Gift for Yourself, and Your Family appeared first on www.chbenevolent.org.

The aging milestone – no longer a millstone

Canada has reached a milestone on its measure of population metrics: the country now contains more seniors than children! Researchers have greeted this news with some anxiety – because of the impact of growing health care costs for seniors – but also with a dose of optimism. Susan McDaniel, the Canada Research Chair in Global […]

@Glowimages 42-17278509.Canada has reached a milestone on its measure of population metrics: the country now contains more seniors than children!

Researchers have greeted this news with some anxiety – because of the impact of growing health care costs for seniors – but also with a dose of optimism.

Susan McDaniel, the Canada Research Chair in Global Population and Life Course, cites statistics that show Baby Boomers have taken better care of their health and also hold a comfortable portion of Canada’s wealth to fend for themselves in retirement.

But the nagging concern remains that the aging population will become a burden on the health care system. This concern is embedded in a view that aging inevitably leads to a decline in health and quality of life.

Yet, some studies indicate that aging may be governed more by our thoughts than solely by our body clock.

Ellen Langer, a noted psychologist, conducted a study where she subjected healthy septuagenarians – but on whom aging still had left its mark – to a ‘time-warp’ experience of an earlier era. She coined the phrase ‘counter-clockwise’ experiment. At the end of their 5-day stay, the subjects emerged apparently rejuvenated – sitting taller, with greater manual dexterity and in one case, improved sight.

Langer concluded from her research on aging: “It is not primarily our physical selves that limit us, but rather our mindset about our physical limits.”

My friend, Don, an active senior, had an opportunity to see just how a change in his thinking about his identity, age and physical limits could free him from a diagnosis generally dictated by aging.BLD025798

An annual visit to the optometrist left him with a diagnosis of the onset of cataracts. Don was then scheduled for a follow-up appointment in a few months. He chose the time between appointments for quiet prayer and study of spiritual writings – as he has found this effective in caring for his health for many years.

Turning to the Bible and the book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, by Mary Baker Eddy, he gained deeper understanding of spiritual laws that produce and govern health. Don saw that God, the Creator, is ageless; therefore as the image, or reflection, of this Creator, he naturally expressed health and harmony that didn’t have to be affected by passing time.

It became even clearer to him that the true and divine Principle underlying laws of health didn’t dictate decline and deterioration, but as the Bible promises: “Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bear fruit in old age; They shall be fresh and flourishing.” (Psalm 92:12-14
NKJV)

At the appointed return visit, the optometrist, after careful review of a digital image of Don’s eyes as well as a close manual exam, stated that there was no trace of the problem. Although the doctor was totally amazed, Don was not. Health, including his eyesight, was just normal, no matter how many years had passed.

Over a hundred years ago, Eddy wrote, ”The measurement of life by solar years robs youth and gives ugliness to age…Let us then shape our views of existence into loveliness, freshness, and continuity, rather than into age and blight.”

The benefits of that shaping are undeniable.

You can also read this article on several Metroland Community sites such as Niagara This Week.

 

Why is addressing spirituality in health care important?

Imagine a conference room full of eager listeners and a panel of experts (a nursing professor, a doctor, a hospital chaplain). Then imagine a question posed that leaves everyone thinking deeply and no one answer is definitive. “How can we collaborate with health care professionals to come to a common definition of spirituality in the […]

How do we integrate spirituality into the health care model?

How do we integrate spirituality into the health care model?

Imagine a conference room full of eager listeners and a panel of experts (a nursing professor, a doctor, a hospital chaplain). Then imagine a question posed that leaves everyone thinking deeply and no one answer is definitive.

“How can we collaborate with health care professionals to come to a common definition of spirituality in the health care model?”

This question has no easy answer and I appreciated that the panel did its best to suggest ways to build a bridge to more person-centered healthcare and meet the spiritual needs of patients in a hospital centric model.

The Canadian Research Institute of Spirituality and Healing (CRISH) held this conference last week to pose the question of the future of spirituality in health care to a panel of professionals in the field.

Research studies have quantitatively examined relationships between religion, spirituality and health, many reporting positive findings. In fact the number of such studies has ballooned over the years and medical schools are increasingly offering courses on spirituality and medicine.

One panelist’s comment struck me as particularly poignant: ‘The beauty of spirituality brings in the light to the sickroom.’

Mary Baker Eddy, a deeply spiritual thinker herself on this subject, explained this in a more pictorial fashion when she wrote at the turn of the 20th century: ‘The substance, Life intelligence, Truth and Love, which constitute Deity, are reflected in His creation…The sunlight glints from the church-dome, glances into the prison-cell, glides into the sick-chamber, brightens the flower, beautifies the landscape, blesses the earth.’ (Science and Health p. 516)

And she further proved in healing experiences throughout her life’s work that it was a divine source of love that brought the light: ‘Love, redolent with unselfishness, bathes all in beauty and light.’ (ibid)

Eddy had a healing model of health care, beyond reliance on the allopathic model of managing disease. She didn’t eschew medical personnel who devote their lives to the health and well-being of others, but found that a change of thought based on Biblical principles changed not only a mental state, but a physical one also.

©GlowImages Model for Illustrative purposes only

©GlowImages Model for Illustrative purposes only

Her research and practice of a spiritually based method of health and healing created a stir throughout a world hungering for the answer to such a question of how spiritual reliance on an all-loving God could heal as it did in Jesus’ time.

CRISH is preparing for their international conference on the topic of integrating spirituality into health care in 2015. They are looking for ways to support the emergence of a new model that allows for the inner wisdom of both patients and health care workers to be combined with scientific and technological advances for the promotion of health and well-being of patients.

If a patient’s spiritual concerns are taken into account, what might health care look like five years from now? CRISH may open the door to enlighten thought, answer the question, and offer practical steps to building a bridge to treating the whole person – physically, mentally, and spiritually.

 

Roundup: Health Insurance Info for Christian Scientists

Our Roundup includes: information on the ACA (Affordable Care Act) provision that went into effect this year, a great ACA decision flow chart, Medicare Open Enrollment information, a primer on Medicare Part A – D, and more information from the Christian Science Provider Network.   ACA (Affordable Care Act) The ACA (Affordable Care Act) with […]

The post Roundup: Health Insurance Info for Christian Scientists appeared first on www.chbenevolent.org.

Roundup_Healthcare for Christian Scientists Illustration

Our Roundup includes:

  • information on the ACA (Affordable Care Act) provision that went into effect this year,
  • a great ACA decision flow chart,
  • Medicare Open Enrollment information,
  • a primer on Medicare Part A – D,
  • and more information from the Christian Science Provider Network.

 

ACA (Affordable Care Act)

Healthcare.govThe ACA (Affordable Care Act) with its individual mandate goes into effect this year. This requires most Americans to have a medical health insurance plan that meets federal requirements or to pay a tax penalty.

If you have questions about the ACA, the Christian Science Committee on Publication Federal Office has a wonderful section on ACA (Affordable Care Act) FAQs. There is an answer to every possible question you might have.

Choosing your options—Flow Chart

Flow ChartIf you still have questions about what your options are under the ACA, this 2014 ACA decision flow chart for Christian Scientists is really helpful. Or for MA residents: 2014 health insurance compliance flow chart.
 

Medicare Open Enrollment

CalendarIn the last quarter of the year those of you who qualify for Medicare will receive many advertisements and notices for Medicare Open Enrollment. The annual open enrollment period is a once-a-year opportunity to switch to a private Medicare Advantage plan from the traditional Medicare fee-for-service plan, or vice versa. Open enrollment ends December 7. Those seeking Christian Science benefits should be aware that traditional Medicare provides coverage for Christian Science nursing in an accredited facility. However, Medicare Advantage plans (Medicare Part C) no matter what they state, rarely pay for coverage in a CS nursing facility. Here is a PBS blog on  What you need to know for Medicare Open Enrollment? Through December 7, 2014

Medicare Overview Part A – D

Do you still have questions about traditional Medicare Part A – D? Here’s a handy primer on Medicare Part A – D from the standpoint of Christian Science benefits.
 
 

Christian Science Provider Network

CS Provider NetworkSome of you may have heard of the Christian Science Provider Network, a spiritual care network serving health plan enrollees. Here is more information on Health Plan Coverage of Christian Science, who is in the network, and how you can help.

The BA’s Health Care section

If you have more questions on Medicare and Health Insurance for Christian Scientists, check out the Health Care section of our BA website.

The post Roundup: Health Insurance Info for Christian Scientists appeared first on www.chbenevolent.org.

Why some people are asking: ‘Do I really need that test?’

‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’.  Or is it? Healthcare costs are rising in Canada and not just because of our aging population.  Canadians are undergoing more tests today than we did 20 years ago – with no obvious improvement in our health. How can over-screening be bad for your health?  In a recently published book
Read more…

©Glowimages Over-screening a risk?

©Glowimages Over-screening a risk?

‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’.  Or is it?

Healthcare costs are rising in Canada and not just because of our aging population.  Canadians are undergoing more tests today than we did 20 years ago – with no obvious improvement in our health.

How can over-screening be bad for your health?  In a recently published book “Overdiagnosed: Making People Sick in the Pursuit of Health, Dr. Gilbert Welch raises the possibility that detecting disease early can do harm by leading to false labelling and inappropriate treatment, and can make people – who otherwise feel well – feel sick.

And Canadian researcher, Alan Cassels, co-authored a book with Welch titled: Seeking Sickness: Medical Screening and the Misguided Hunt for Disease. Both writers express a concern that many tests can lead to risks known as ‘false positive’ results that can lead to enormous anxiety, as well as invasive investigations, such as biopsies. They summarize that over-treatment is both financially costly and physically harmful.

But there are initiatives, such as the  ‘Good Stewardship Working Group’, who try to reduce inappropriate uses of screening tests while still using them where they have been shown to improve people’s heath.  According to researchers, billions of dollars could be put back into the health-care system, where that money can be put to better use for other types of prevention and services.

Reducing typical but not useful screening tests may take education for both the physician and the patient.

As Dr. Nancy Abram mentioned in our interview a few weeks back, the physician culture today is one more dependent on technology, and the more common expectation is to give a patient a prescription for a drug or a test.  Instead, a doctor may wish to encourage a patient to take a brisk walk each day or lose a few pounds.  Abram, herself, has even written a prescription for a patient to take a holiday!

Is there a way to change the public attitude/tendency towards the comfort of over-diagnosis? Doctors alone can’t change the tide.  Unless patients participate, it may take years to see a change in practices and the resulting health-care savings.

Welch wraps up what he found in medical over-treatment/diagnosis by saying, “For years now, people have been encouraged to look to medical care as the way to make them healthy. But that’s your job. You can’t contract that out.”

Taking control of our health is one way we can address health fears and lessen the risk of being pulled into an over-treatment scenario.

One wintry Christmas, I was involved in an automobile pile-up.  Following the wreck, I really felt no effects, and while I appreciated the concern of police and others involved, I felt going for tests and x-rays was not needed.  However, when I lay in bed that night, I felt the symptoms (described to me earlier) of severe whiplash take hold. Not wanting to disturb the household (I was a guest), I started to pray. The first prayer that came to thought was most common for many faiths – the Lord’s Prayer.  I felt deeply comforted by the spiritual sense of ‘Our Father’ and His loving care for each of His children.  I then slept well and awoke without any of the earlier symptoms.

It may seem farfetched to use prayer or other spiritual practices as a way to take control of our health but maybe it isn’t. Many physicians and medical researchers are seeing these practices as conducive to helping people feel better. And people who feel well have little need to seek unnecessary screenings.

John Counsell, radio host at 580/CFRA Ottawa, ties the concept of spirituality into health care with the idea of taking responsibility for your own health: “everyone needs to take responsibility for one’s health, whether it be of the mind, the spirit, or the body. Virtuous living, serving others, prayer, meditation, music, good deeds, a positive outlook, cultivating happiness, loving others, a robust sense of humour… will greatly contribute to the maintenance of health and well-being. Avoidance of negative, critical, punitive, destructive emotional states and thought patterns will also achieve the same effect.

Counsell even describes an added benefit of taking responsibility by describing its effect on the health care system: “Our overburdened, severely impaired health care system could save itself billions of dollars annually if populations would follow the prescriptions of religion regarding lifestyle choices. The avoidance of smoking and the consumption of alcohol, keeping fit, avoiding overeating, and maintaining a healthy diet would do wonders for the health of the nation.”

Is the ‘health of our nation’ and health-care savings in the hands of each individual when they ask the question: ‘Do I really need that test?’  Asking further questions of a health-care provider may provide the time and the information needed to wisely do nothing – maybe just a lifestyle change – rather than submitting to potential risks.

It’s as if we have come full circle back to Hippocrates, who said: “To do nothing is sometimes a good remedy.”

Bringing Spirituality to Medicine

Since 1998, the World Health Organization has been lobbying to include the word ‘spiritual’ in its description of overall health and wellness. The inclusion of the word ‘spiritual’ with ‘wellness’ is becoming more prevalent in modern definitions of wellness – such as those of the U.S.-based National Wellness Institute – where spiritual wellness is a standard component as one of
Read more…

©GlowImages  Model for Illustrative purposes only

©GlowImages Model for Illustrative purposes only

Since 1998, the World Health Organization has been lobbying to include the word ‘spiritual’ in its description of overall health and wellness.

The inclusion of the word ‘spiritual’ with ‘wellness’ is becoming more prevalent in modern definitions of wellness – such as those of the U.S.-based National Wellness Institute – where spiritual wellness is a standard component as one of the six dimensions of wellness (including also emotional, occupational, social, intellectual and physical).   Spiritual wellness impacts our life in a way that it encourages not only peace and harmony within us, but also our capacity to show love, compassion and forgiveness.

A common and universal source of spiritual wellness may have something to do with this ancient wisdom from the prophet Isaiah 26:3 “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.”

There is also increased interest in finding ways to study and research the impact spirituality has on health.

A Wall Street Journal’s Health Blog reported that, “In recent years, a growing body of research investigating the relationship between religion, spirituality and health has led to a number of evidence-based guidelines for spiritual care and tools to help hospitals provide it…”

Laura Landro, author of this WSJ blog, tells us that, “Experts say attending to one’s spirituality—be it with yoga, prayer, meditation, music or putting others first—may help turn spiritual struggle into an opportunity for growth.”

In a recently unveiled plan, the province of Manitoba has taken steps to be a leader in spiritual health care.  The report, ‘Health and the Human Spirit: Shaping the Direction of Spiritual Health Care’ recognizes that spirituality is essential to wellness.

The intent of the new plan is to advance the concept beyond its beginnings as a chaplaincy type of coordination and standardization service and to try to promote a broader sense of spiritual care.  The inclusion of the word “health” in the label “spiritual health care” conveys a sense that the intent of this plan is beyond just coping or helping people grieve, and includes helping them heal.

At the launch of this new strategic plan, Manitoba Healthy Living Minister Jim Rondeau said: “The reason we moved forward with this strategic plan is that we looked at the practice of health care and realized that what we had to do was focus on the entire person – which is the body, the mind, relationships and spirituality.”

Rondeau expects the end result will be improved health outcomes and reduced cost to the system.  “Research has shown that higher levels of spiritual well being, along with a sense of inner meaning and inner peace, are associated with better health outcomes, lower levels of depression and anxiety, and a better quality of life”, according to the plan.

The Canadian Association for Spiritual Care (CASC) is a nongovernmental multi-faith organization that provides training for spiritual care providers albeit with more of a pastoral care focus.   However, Doug Kellough, president of the Association says, “While many may perceive spiritual health care as inextricably linked to religion, proponents say it is more accurately related to the patients overall spiritual well being”.

Saskatchewan is also in the process of proposing a similar framework in their provincial health care plan that recognizes spiritual health as an important component in the provision of individual’s overall health care.

Scientists who research the correlation between spirituality and health maintain that, while studies are difficult to conduct, they are important. And, sufficient studies have been done around the world to give health care systems a glimpse of the potential benefits to incorporating spiritual care. That’s why teams of health care professionals in hospitals – physicians, nurses, social workers and others –increasingly include a spiritual care provider, usually described as a chaplain.

Dr. Linda Emanuel researcher at Northwestern University School of Medicine notes in an article she penned for the Washington Post, “During the enthusiasm for all things scientific, the role of spirituality in illness was dismissed as subjective and lacking in hard data.  Yet, we can define spirituality in words.  We can feel it.  So why does something so powerful have such poor evidence?”

Perhaps because things that are tied to our very essence are not only hard to talk about but also hard to study.  And, medical research systems are built around empirical – what we can see – evidence, while spiritual well being is more often felt. Still, it can produce actual, practical health outcomes, and these should be acknowledged.

Dr. Emanuel appreciates the role of a spiritual care provider in health care as she writes: “people often feel spiritually abandoned while in the arms of medical care. The role of spiritual care provider would bring a needed dimension to assessing and providing for the needs of the patient.”

In an environment where provinces and hospitals are looking to cut both costs and programs that might not fit into mainstream medicine, spirituality in health care needs to have more opportunity to show evidence of its benefits. And with programs like Manitoba’s and the burgeoning ones in other provinces, there will be more opportunities for physicians and patients to experience this ‘whole person’ approach, and document its benefits.

There is, of course, existing evidence of the role spirituality can plan in healing disease. For example, in my Bible-based approach to treating disease, there are documented healings of things such as cancer, a blood clot, and chronic fatigue.

The very act of including a spiritual dimension in one’s health care offers the patient the opportunity to choose to acknowledge a higher power in the healing journey.  The result – a greater sense of peace and harmony.  What a healthy prescription!