Departments within hospitals, HMOs and other health care institutions that provide for the spiritual care of patients with severe, chronic or terminal conditions, their families and staff, regardless of their religious traditions. Pastoral care workers work cooperatively with the health care team; listen, elicit and respond to individual religious/spiritual needs; identify and clarify ethical issues related to end-of-life treatment and care; provide bereavement support for family members, significant others and professional staff; and ensure that treatment addresses the whole person, not just his or her medical needs. The service is provided by licensed clergy or trained, accredited spiritual care volunteers.
Programs that provide opportunities for people to satisfy their inner needs and enhance their spiritual growth through organized group worship, or through other devotional activities under the auspices of a formal religious or denominational institution.
Programs that provide emotional support, problem-solving assistance, information and guidance for people who are questioning their religion or experiencing a loss of faith, are leaving a religion, particularly a fundamentalist one, are converting to a new religion, or have questions relating to religious or spiritual values; are having experiences such as visions or near-death experiences which they are having difficulty interpreting and integrating; or are clergymen or women or others who no longer have a religious vocation and want to leave their cloistered lives.
The above terms and definitions are part of the Taxonomy of Human Services, used here by permission of INFO LINE of Los Angeles.