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KESS2 Scholarship: Enhancing the holistic wellbeing of patients in NHS Wales through development of spiritual assessment processes

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Sunday, February 09, 2020
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

This is a funded PhD, including a generous stipend and tuition fees, with well-resourced circumstances for a successful scholarship.
Here is an exciting opportunity to conduct a mixed methods multi-phase study, which could lead to entirely new approaches to admission and documentation of patients’ holistic care needs across NHS Wales.
The project is backed by Aneurin Bevan University Health Board which provides health services to people within its catchment area, spanning Caerphilly to Monmouth, however this research project has an all Wales focus.
Programme of research:


Welsh Government (WG) asked the All Wales Spirituality Health & Wellbeing Special Interest Group (SHaW) if the spirituality component of the 2015 Health & Care Standards need to be updated and it concluded that it does need updating (IS chairs this group, LR is a member and both contributed to development of the Standards in 2015). One aspect needing further investigation is the fitness for purpose of the spiritual screening of patients on admission forms across Wales, to ensure their spiritual needs are identified as part of holistic person centred care (H&C Standards 2015) and are addressed within their care plans. There is evidence in England that assessment of spiritual/religious/cultural needs is not routinely documented with only 15% of patients at end of life in acute care having these needs documented (RCP 2016). *Anecdotal evidence in Wales suggests that, outside of palliative care and mental health (where the CTP is used): many admission forms focus on religion/religious needs rather than broader spiritual needs; there is variation in the wording of this section; it is often not completed. This means that the religious and non-religious spiritual needs of people, and the resources which support them when well, may not be identified and therefore available to support them when facing uncertainty, illness, or death. This is important given evidence of the contribution of spiritual wellbeing to health (Koenig et al 2012).

*By anecdotal evidence we mean verbal feedback from USW pre-registration and post-registration Masters students (over the last 10 years) during teaching on the subject, discussions with nurse managers/Directors of Nursing, for example at conferences, workshops and meetings locally within Wales in the last few years.


To evaluate and improve on the initial spiritual assessment of patients in the NHS across Wales.
It is anticipated that there will be three phases using mixed methods.
Phase 1. Establishing current practice
- Identify what questions are asked on admission forms about personal/religious/spiritual needs in Health Boards across Wales and where on care plans this information should be recorded.
- Identify what information is recorded by staff on the admission forms about personal/religious/spiritual needs and how this filters through into care plans.
Phase 2. Developing practice
- Seek staff/patients’ opinions about appropriateness of current questions/documentation and suggestions for improvement.
- Co-produce (staff and patients) an initial spiritual assessment tool for admission forms that is fit for purpose and provides pointers for appropriate care planning.
- Identify what training staff need to action the new admission form/documentation, and co-produce (staff and patients) a training programme for testing in a future study.
Phase 3. Testing new developments to enhance practice
- Test out the new admission form/documentation in a selected Health Board.

The key deliverables will be:
-Identification of current spiritual screening tools and practices across NHS Wales
-All Wales co-produced spiritual screening/documentation tool that is fit for purpose
-Co-produced staff spiritual care training programme that addresses staff need.

Application Process:

To download an application package, please visit: specific funded studentships:

For any queries on eligibility, please contact: KESS Team at Research and Innovation Services, University of South Wales: Tel: 01443 482578

For informal enquiries or further programme information, please contact: Professor Linda Ross

Funding Notes

The studentship will cover the fees for a full-time PhD programme and pay a stipend of circa £14.5k p.a. There is also around £9k project support costs available for consumables, travel, minor equipment, training (including the KESS Grad School) and conference attendance.
The position is available from 1st April 2020.

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