A truly EPICC meeting in Malta

The 2nd teaching and learning event of ERASMUS+ Project “Enhancing Nurses' and Midwives’ Competence in Providing Spiritual Care through Innovative Education and Compassionate Care” took place from the 24th to the 28th of September, 2018 at the University of Malta, in Valletta.

The strategic partners from six European universities together with Participant+ members strongly believe that “there is a great deal of innovation in the teaching of spiritual and person centred care that needs to be captured, shared and built upon to ensure nursing students are equipped to address the holistic needs of the people they care for. This is to ensure that the nursing workforce of the future is prepared to address some of the global challenges that are impacting upon international nursing and healthcare”.

In his opening speech, Evarist Bartolo, the Minister of Education and Employment from Malta, pointed out that spirituality is needed as a part of all education. Having this important message in mind, participants from universities, health care institutions, and governmental organisations from 17 European countries presented their efforts of raising the awareness about the importance of spiritual care and putting connectedness, compassion, and person-centeredness on undergraduate nurses’ competencies list.

On the third day the spiritual care competencies were presented to the wider audience. Religious leaders, nurses, social workers, students, and researchers joined in to share their experiences and concerns regarding the spiritual care provision. It was a common understanding that spiritual care should encompass patients’ and clients’ existential/spiritual concerns more broadly, and be less focussed on solely religious resources, questions and concerns. Deo Debattista, the Parliamentary Secretary for consumer protection, a medical doctor himself, confirmed that in order to “really heal the patient”, it is crucial to take a good look into their “second mind”. In order to get there, engaging with self and one’s own spirituality is essential.

The final two days of the conference were full of discussions, how to present these EPICC competencies to teachers, clinicians, decision-makers in a meaningful and constructive manner. In particularly, the topic of culturally sensitive translation and transfer into different European regions was debated whole-heartedly. 

The effort, dedication, and thought all participants put into this project on-site as well as in their home institutions are indescribable. Through this project many undergraduate nursing and midwifery students have had for a first time the opportunity to reflect on their own spirituality and learn, what effects spiritual care has, not only on patients’ and their caregivers’ outcomes, but also on work-relations, personal and professional well-being, and overall working atmosphere.

The work and collaboration is to be continued. The launch of the EPICC competencies, golden standard, and teaching toolkit will take place at the Cardiff University in South-Wales in the beginning of July, 2019.