Spiritual care

Spiritual care within hospitals, hospices and aged residential care services

Hospitals, hospices and Aged Residential Care facilities will generally employ pastoral care staff (Māori from different faith backgrounds, Māori and non-Māori Chaplains, kaumātua, and spiritual workers) to support kaumātua and whānau manaaki. However, be aware that some organisations only employ spiritual health care professionals on a part-time basis.


A hospital is an institution that provides medical and social care to people. There are many health professionals and social care professionals who work in hospitals including physicians, surgeons, nurses, allied health practitioners and volunteers. Whānau will most likely be familiar with using general hospitals that are funded by the public. District hospitals may not have large Emergency Departments to treat accidents and acute illnesses; they may not have wards to care for people with specific health problems such as geriatric care (care of older people), or support people with cancer treatments for example.


Hospices provide holistic care to enable people to live at home for longer and with the best quality of life possible; they often provide short term care in an inpatient unit and this can help with pain and symptom management as well as providing respite to kaumātua and their whānau manaaki (although not all hospices offer inpatient units). Good spiritual care means caring holistically for the mind, body and spirit of the ill or dying kaumātua. It also means caring for their whānau manaaki.

Aged Residential Care

Residential care includes the following types of long-term care provided in a rest home or hospital:

  • rest home care
  • continuing care (hospital)
  • dementia care
  • specialised hospital care (psychogeriatric care).

Short-term respite care and convalescent care may be provided in these facilities, but do not involve income and asset testing.

Long-term residential care does not include independent living in a retirement village.


Wai (water) is an important element often used in spiritual care practices, especially for iwi (tribes) who are familiar with using water in their spiritual healing. Matua Ned described how water is used to whakanoa (clear) a space after someone has died. Ned also spoke about how many older whānau members in his community are religious, but they also observe their Māori tikanga (customs):

[We] whakanoa (clear) things within the [hospital] room, within there, just have… [the] touch of water from the river, you know. That’s their [river peoples’] connection; want to keep their connections going. Because most of our elderly people are still very [much] in the time of hard Catholics, and you know the [people who live by the river] are real hard Catholic people, so they still keep to their Catholic faith… But they also keep to this, what they do know about, what the river can do and the water…

© Copyright 2024 Te Ipu Aronui

Website crafted by bocapa. Design by Sasha Maya