A disaster, according the the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent societies, is “ a sudden, calamitous even that seriously disrupts the functioning of a community or society and causes human, material, and economic or environmental losses that exceed the community’s or society’s ability to cope using it own resources” (International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, n.d.). When disasters occur it has an everlasting effect not only on the individuals, it affected physically but it can also leave a devastating affect on them spiritually. For example when hurricane Harvey struck the Texas Gulf Coast, it had an enormous affect on the residents of the affected areas physically and spiritually. People lost their lives, homes, and everything they ever had causing them physical and emotional damage which can probably never be recovered or recouped. During these times, the need for spiritual care may become dire regardless of religious affiliation, chaplains play an important role in supporting the communities’ emotional need during and after devastating event (Falkner, 2019).
It is important for the community nurse to assist the individuals, community, self, and colleagues in these times because it can place a physical and emotional strain on everyone involved. Nurses working with the victims and the community can advocate for the spiritual needs of patients by locating the chaplain whenever possible and facilitating the incorporation of spiritual practices that do not interfere with patient safety or the the course of treatment and provide spiritual comfort (Falkner, 2019). Colleagues will need assistance because during these tough times, it can place an emotional strain on them because so much is needed from them to help the community, that colleagues may need an outlet or some sort of prayer to help them get through the tough times.
Community and Public Health: The Future of Health Care. (2019). Retrieved from Grand Canyon University (Ed.): https://1c.gcumedia.com/nrs427vn/community-and-public-health-the-future-of-health-care/v1.1/
Falkner, A. (2019). Community as Client. In Community & public health: The future of health care. Retrieved from https://lc.gcumedia.com/nrs427vn/community-and-public-health-the-future-of-health-care/v1.1/
International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. (n.d.). What is a disaster? Retrieved from https://www.ifrc.org/en/what-we-do/disaster-management/about-disaster/what-is-a-disaster
Spirituality is an inner belief system. It is a spirit to spirit relationship to oneself, others and the God of ones understanding. Everyone is a spiritual being. A disaster affects the entire fabric of a community that existed prior to the event and can cause traumatic stress among the whole community. It’s recovery is in large part the rebuilding of the community, the retying of the thousands of strands of relationship in the fabric of our being together that have been severed by the disaster.(Rev. J. Robinson ,Jr)
Spiritual distress is when a person or a group of people experience a disturbance in their belief or value which really happens in a disaster, or when the system that provides strength, hope and meaning to life is no more.
Public health nurses should offer their presence and hospitality during this time. They should meet and accept people exactly as they are, practice the Do no Harm, they should not evangelize, proselytize or exploit vulnerable persons in need during this time. Their role is to provide sensitive and appropriate care for all and respect every spiritual perspective, provide a shoulder to cry on both for their individual families and their patients. It takes a certain level of professionalism to be able to balance and cope with both. It takes the strength from a supernatural being.
Light Our Way: A Guide for Spiritual Care in Times of Disaster. NVOAD,2006
The Etymology of the Word Chaplain: Morgan;2000 by Chaplains Ministries, Internet article
Chapter 5, Community and Public Health: The Future of Health Care. Retrieved from: https://www.gcumedia.com/digital-resources/grand-canyon-university/2018/community-and-public-health_the-future-of-health-care_1e.php