Program Session

9 - Being Mortal and Beyond: Meeting Spiritual Needs of Staff and Caregivers

Monday, May 29
11:15 AM - 11:20 AM
Room: 612

Objectives: This work examines the development of a partnership of the Danbury Hospital librarians, the Spiritual Care Department, and the newly formed Goldstone Caregiver Center: broadening its outreach to the staff, as well as the patients and their caregivers in the community.

Methods: At Danbury Hospital, a non-profit teaching hospital, health sciences librarians, the Director of Spiritual Care and her staff as well as the manager (a licensed social worker) of the Goldstone Caregiver Center. The purpose of this partnership hoped to provide easily accessible and understandable information to the staff of the hospital and the caregivers in the community. The first step in the partnership was to transfer the consumer health collection from the library (which is focused on the information needs of the staff) to the caregiver center which promotes the well-being of caregivers through compassionate support and a healing environment. The transition was so successful, the professionals decided to work together on an outreach program: a discussion series on the book “Being Mortal” by Atul Gawande for the staff of the hospital.

Results: There were a series of six weekly sessions held for the staff at various times to meet the needs of all shifts. The most attended session was at noon, followed by the evening then the early morning. Librarians teamed with a staff from the spiritual care department to facilitate all of these discussions. Sessions were held at the Caregiver Center. Using the book as a framework, the groups discussed aging and the process of dying as well as the cultural and individual perspectives in a judgment-free zone without hierarchy. I have since facilitated a one-time book discussion with summer research interns. I have created annotated bibliographies for the Caregiver Staff as well for their outreach programs.

Conclusion: Though the topic of the discussion can be emotionally overwhelming, those who participated in the program found it worthwhile. The discussion groups met the stated goals of discussing aging, complications, hard conversations, and mortality. Most participants stated that the talks changed their practice and personal lives as well as their competency in approaching these subjects. When asked about barriers to change, lack of time as well as difference of opinions were the most frequently listed. Most participants also suggested having fewer discussions per book in the future. 

Keywords: Spiritual Care, End of Life, Dying, Books, Discussion, Outreach, Partnership



Program Session

Mary Shah

Medical Librarian & Archivist
Horblit Health Sciences Library
Danbury, Connecticut

Mary Shah, MLS, AHIP is a medical librarian & archivist at Danbury Hospital, part of Western Connecticut Health Network. She provides clinical research and is the nursing liaison. Ms. Shah instucts on evidence based medicine/practice and research, as well as cultural competency and health literacy. Ms. Shah is a member of of the Network Research Council, Nursing Practice Council, and Global Health Steering Committee. She also curates displays from the historical archives and directs the Oral History Project at the Network. Ms. Shah is also an honorary member of the Danbury Hospital School of Nursing Alumnae Association (the youngest by at least two decades) as a result of preserving the nurses' history. In the MLA, she is a member of HLS and NAHRS, serving on its Archives Committee. She is also a senior member of the Academy of Health Information Professionals. At her hometown library, she serves as a trustee--chairing the silent auction, directing the Nightclub @ the Library concert series, and finding other ways to raise money for its operating funds. She is an Episcopal married to a Hindu since 1992, daring to practice diversity before it was common. She dreams of civil rights, privacy, and inclusion. She does love her family, coffee, poetry, dark chocolate, bookstores, and music.

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