photo of Spiritual care team

Five Awesome Questions is a new series that focuses on sharing the vital contributions of many different areas and departments across Sinai Health. For our first installment, we are learning about Spiritual Care at Sinai Health.

Our Spiritual and Religious Care team is an integral part of Sinai Health, providing support and guidance to patients, caregivers, and employees of all faith and cultural backgrounds throughout the hospital.

Spiritual Care is available to support patients, family, and staff, whether they are religious or not. Focused on helping people find meaning in times of illness, loss and suffering, Spiritual Care assists people in a framework built around their own individual beliefs and understanding of spirituality.  

The Spiritual Care team consists of Spiritual Care Providers (SCPs) Iryna Soluk-Figol, manager for both campuses, as well as Linda Kuschnik, Christina Dashko, Hannah Smeele, Lecia Kiska, and a team of casual SCPs covering weekends including Lloyd Manning, Blessing Anyanwu, Rosemary Lai, Susie Choi, and John Karanja.

We asked them five questions to help get a better idea of what the team does in their day to day, and the ways that they serve our patients and people.

  1. What is a typical day for one of our spiritual care practitioners?

Spiritual Care work, like all clinical care, varies depending on the needs of the patient. A day will often be filled with rounds, consults, meetings, bereavements, rituals, staff support and of course, patient care. We respond to codes, offering family support during crisis. Some of us run groups focused on mindfulness and creative expression. We also lead debriefs after difficult cases and facilitate civil and religious services in hospital, such as Jewish High Holiday Services, Remembrance Day Service, and the annual NICU memorial.


  1. What kind of work do you do in collaboration with other people at Sinai Health? Who do you work with most frequently and what does that work look like?

As a member of the interprofessional team, it is vital to work with all the different disciplines closely. This has many forms – we communicate with each other, create treatment plans that reflect priorities of the patients and the team, we co-facilitate groups. Everyone has their role and when we are at our best we all work together as a team. Whoever is needed in the moment for best patient and family care is there. Being a new discipline at Mount Sinai, we would like to give a huge shout out to pediatric team, occupational therapists, social workers, physiotherapists, nurses, palliative team and our bioethics colleagues, with whom we have started to build very strong collaborative ties. We also want to thank those with whom we have, and continue to work closely with at Bridgepoint.


  1. What makes someone good at providing spiritual care? 

Some of the best spiritual care practitioners are those who don’t make assumptions about what someone is going through. Rather they are able to listen with an open mind, be curious, provide empathetic presence and be a good “people reader.”

The most important thing about giving good spiritual care is to be tending to one’s own spirit.  To be exceptionally self-aware while embracing open-mindedness.  Someone in the profession cannot be rigid in their understanding of spirituality, the world, and how people make meaning in their lives. One needs to have an inquisitive, non-judgmental approach, and have a strong foundation in philosophy, psychology, theology and world religions.


  1. What is the best part of your job?

For many, the best part of being a spiritual care practitioner is being able to help patients and families see the caring that we as a health care team have for them and their loved one, and to assure them that they aren’t alone in the middle of suffering. Some of the best parts of our jobs are to know that we have contributed to patients’ and caregivers’ experience of hospitalization that reflects their values and ultimately contributes to the holistic approach of their healing journey.


 5. What are some initiatives you have recently or will soon implement?

We are expanding our education at Sinai Health to include Mount Sinai as a teaching site in partnership with the University of Toronto. We are excited to offer this learning opportunity to the next generation of Spiritual Care Practitioners starting in May 2020. We just celebrated Spiritual Care Week, and hosted a well-attended event where we rolled out the new Smudging Policy which enables us to honour the spirituality of our First Nations patients and employees.

Did you know?

Studies show that Spiritual Care teams in health care settings contribute to shorter stays in the hospital, higher patient/caregiver satisfaction, and overall savings in health care spending.