Reviews of e-opening....


The ‘Opening the Spiritual Gate e-learning package’ is a simple yet really effective way of understanding more about the spiritual needs of patients.

As a doctor having worked in palliative medicine for a number of years I have often stopped short of a truly holistic patient assessment. I knew in theory that the realm of spiritual care was part of the remit of a palliative care assessment but  I just didn’t know the right way to bring up these issues. What was meant by spiritual distress and should I be the one to delve into these areas anyway? What if a patient started to talk to me about things I didn’t understand; things I didn’t have the answers to? For these reasons I was keen to see what this course could offer.

This e-learning package is split into four modules which take you through the meaning of religion and spirituality (as far as it can be defined!), recognising spiritual distress, communication, recording and reporting and finally pulling it all together. It is an easy format to follow and uses a range of techniques to help explain some ill-defined and ethereal concepts. I did worry that with a topic such as spirituality it would be better to attend a face-to-face training day where there can be open discussions and the sharing of experiences. This course gets around this problem with the use of forums where ideas and concerns can be discussed with others including the course tutors.  There is also sign-posting to some really useful resources on spiritual and religious care.

The beauty of an e-learning package is that you can dip in and out with whatever time you have to spare. You can also revisit sections and take your own time to work through modules that are more thought-provoking or challenging. I’m not saying that I am now an expert and have all the answers, but at least I feel better prepared and much more confident to start and continue these  difficult conversations with patients

                                                                                                       Dr Kathryn Gaunt, Specialist Registrar

I have recently completed Opening the Spiritual Gate course on line. It is the most enlightening course I have participated in.

At first I was apprehensive. Was on line learning for me? – I’m not that IT literate, and usually get a lot from a group discussion.

Once I logged on, each session guided me through with ease and clear instruction on what to do next. Particularly liked the styles, and narrative, the layout of the screen,  the tasks and discussion forums.   It also allowed me to pace my learning so I could reflect on what had been said in my own time.

The discussion forums were really interesting, the more I participated the more I got from them. I shared my thoughts and feelings in this non threatening environment more easily than in a classroom.  On reflection I feel I participated more in this format than face to face. I felt my comments were valued and respected. Again it allowed me to reflect on other people comments at my own pace and I felt I never missed an opportunity to respond.

I have found the communication session very useful and am using it in my practice. The recording and reporting have made me really think about what needs to be disclosed – found this exercise fun.

On the whole I would recommend it to all even if not ‘IT savvy’. I feel more confident in supporting the patients, families and myself.

A fabulous learning environment, I was able to pace myself, and I felt I contributed more than I expected to and all my contribution were valued by the people In the group.

                                                                                                                                                           Dawn Valentine-Gray, Clinical Nurse Specialist

The e-learning version of the “Opening the Spiritual Gate” course was extremely easy to use. I found no problems navigating my way around from one part of the course to the next as it was so intuitive.

The course material was very informative and interesting; in fact it was extremely thought provoking and prompted me to examine, somewhat, my own spirituality. In doing this I discovered that I could recognise the differences between spirituality and religion; appreciate how they can both be, in their own ways, important factors in a person’s holistic well being and, therefore, important factors to consider when providing holistic care.

Having finished the course I feel much more confident in being able to recognise when my patients may be in spiritual distress and feel that I have acquired proven techniques with which I can try to facilitate my patients addressing the issues that may be distressing them.

I am sure that anyone doing the course will find it rewarding and come away from it understanding how they can make a difference.

                                                                                                      Graham Ellams, Healthcare Assistant

I found this a particularly interesting course, which I would certainly recommend to all staff in the NHS, not just Palliative Care. I would recommend it to AHPs and Social Workers, even to staff who feel that they have done some counselling courses, communication courses or solution-focussed therapy etc. It is also appropriate for people who feel they have a strong faith and know a lot about this area of work and to those who have no faith, because it focusses on patient need and how to meet this. It also gets everyone to look at broader issues and realise, in discussion, how different everyone is and yet, how we all have something to offer and how important it is to pick up on the cues, when patients need to talk.

                                                                                                       Margaret Foulkes, Social Worker

I have just completed the e-learning “Opening the Spiritual Gate”. The four week programme was cleverly structured to include - a) definitions / understanding of spirituality and religion and the resources available; b) communication skills to assess needs; c) issues of reporting, recording and confidentiality; and d) staff support, putting into action / personal development.

A wealth of different educational tools were utilised including demonstrations, video clips, links to websites, books and policies, and group forum which provided a safe, non-judgemental environment to explore the relevant issues and share anecdotal experiences of dealing with difficult conversations/situations.

In short, I found the course to be inspiring, thought-provoking and hugely beneficial to my practice. I would strongly recommend it to all healthcare professionals to facilitate optimum holistic assessment and on-going spiritual care.

                                                                                                       Julie Massam, RGN