Local clinical leaders hear importance of spirituality in a patient’s recovery

The importance of spirituality and self-worth in a person’s recovery from illness, or management of a long-term condition, will be explained to Bradford clinical leaders when they hear first-hand of a young woman’s story of caring for her mum.

NHS Bradford City Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has invited Farhat Yaqoob to its governing body meeting on Wednesday (9 July) to tell them of her experiences of caring for her mum and how spirituality can support people through ill health.

The CCG wants to understand more about the importance of spiritual and pastoral care in health and wellbeing, especially around self-care where patients are managing long-term conditions which can have a big impact on their quality of life.

Farhat, 33, is a volunteer chaplain at Bradford Magistrates Court, a teacher and spiritual mentor at a Bradford mosque and a link liaison worker at Bradford and Airedale Mental Health Advocacy Group (BAMHAG).

She has also been a carer since she was in her teens after her mum, then in her early 50s, started to suffer from mental health problems.

Farhat’s mum developed anxiety and depression after a series of family bereavements and became quiet, agoraphobic and more and more isolated. She also suffered from a heart condition and spent much time in hospital, often accompanied by her daughter.

Farhat became her mum’s carer. “My role changed from the youngest child to a carer, someone to listen to my mum, a shoulder for her to lean on. I didn’t know what to do sometimes – I didn’t have a book, I just had to wing it and made it up as I went along.

“I became a counsellor, advocate, adviser, sign poster and carer and my own self-worth, identity and spirituality got tested but I knew I had to look after myself to look after mum.”

She will tell the CCG that spirituality is more than just about a person’s faith: “It’s about your self-worth and how you fit in the world – you don’t have to be religious to have spirituality.

“The healthcare system is great and cares for people’s physical wellbeing but from my experiences, I feel there are significant gaps around spiritual wellbeing and this has a huge knock-on effect in terms of recovery and self-care. Taking account of someone’s spirituality is so important in the whole self-care agenda.”

Max Mclean, lay member for patient and public involvement at Bradford City CCG, said: “Farhat’s experiences of caring for her mum and seeing the importance of supporting people not only emotionally but spiritually too, gives us some real food for thought.

“As increasing numbers of people, from many different communities, manage long-term conditions we need to recognise that staying well while coping with illness often needs more than physical and emotional support. The idea that spiritual wellbeing can help people feel empowered to look after themselves, through self-care, is valuable advice that we will take on board as we plan services.”