Thomas Moore's most recent book, "Care of the Soul in Medicine: Healing Guidance for Patients, Families, and the People Who Care for Them," is the logical extension of his 1992 best-seller, "Care of the Soul."
Soon after "Care of the Soul" was published, "People began calling me and writing to me and asking me to come and speak to doctors and nurses and specialists," said Moore, a psychotherapist and former monk who has written numerous books on spirituality. "The first thing I discovered is a lot of people working in hospitals are confused about how to deal with death, with patients who are dying, and the families of the patients."
Moore found that most medical professionals wanted to be able to deal more effectively with the "soul" and "spirit" sides of human beings, but had been trained in techniques of medicine rather than in ways that allowed them to treat the whole person from a spiritual, physical and emotional perspective.
Moore will give a lecture and a workshop this weekend at Sarasota Memorial Hospital, sponsored by the C.G. Jung Society of Sarasota, in which he will focus on the importance of including patients' families in the treatment and healing process; the "soul and spirit of the health care worker, helping them be inspired to keep up with their work, to feel that it's meaningful to them," and the physical environment for healing.
Moore also has advice for patients.
"Get someone to help you; don't do it on your own," he said. "I've gone to the chaplain right away. That's their job, to take care of families. Another good source is the integrative medicine department. They're there to think about the whole person. There are also these days a group of professionals called nurse navigators, nurses trained to help patients navigate through the time in the hospital."
Moore also suggests delegating a family member who's assertive and not easily pushed around to be the point person for dealing with medical professionals.
And it never hurts to sweeten the pot with a bit of human kindness. Moore related the story of a patient who felt he wasn't getting the kind of attention from nurses that he felt he needed. Rather than complain, the patient had a family member bring in refreshments and hosted a little "get-to-know-me" conversation in his room. The result was a medical staff who saw him less as a "patient" and more as a "human being."
"I fully understand the pressures these medical professionals are under," said Moore. "Still, I think we need a vision" of how to treat patients as people.