Skip to main content
Ruveyda Durmus
Holland Bloorview offers spiritual care in the face of global challenges

An interview with Ruveyda Durmus, new spiritual care practitioner at Holland Bloorview 

In the face of global crises and unprecedented challenges, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital (Holland Bloorview) continues to prioritize the holistic well-being of staff, clients and families by enhancing its spiritual care program. Acknowledging the profound impact of spiritual support in times of crises, the hospital remains committed to providing compassionate care that addresses the diverse spiritual needs of staff, clients and their families.

In our strategic plan, HB2030, Holland Bloorview commits to expanding our resources not only to support the evolving and diverse needs of clients and families, but the well-being of staff across the hospital. “With the ongoing challenges and uncertainties within and beyond our walls, the need for comprehensive, inclusive and compassionate care for all, including our staff, has never been greater,” says Julia Hanigsberg, president and CEO. “Which is why I am so grateful for our expanded spiritual care services provided by our spiritual care practitioner, Ruveyda Durmus. Spiritual care is an integral component of healing, promoting resilience, and fostering hope in the midst of adversity.”

Spiritual care services are open for Holland Bloorview staff and clients, and families. Ruveyda can be reached by email at:  or by phone: 416-425-6220 ext. 3656

We spoke with Ruveyda about her role and the spiritual care program.

Can you start by telling us a bit about yourself and what attracted you to come work at Holland Bloorview in this role?

My name is Ruveyda, I am a spiritual care practitioner and a registered psychotherapist (Qualifying). I have a bachelor’s degree in Religion, Women and Gender Studies and a Master’s degree in Pastoral Studies with Spiritual Care and Psychotherapy. I have spiritual care experience in various hospital settings. Working with children has always been my passion, and that’s why I joined Holland Bloorview. I am truly grateful for being able to provide spiritual care to children and their families and staff at Holland Bloorview. 

What does this role entail?

Spiritual care practitioners are clinically trained individuals that support a person's spiritual well-being through creating a sacred space and through providing spiritual/emotional support during difficult times and spiritual distress. They are members of Canadian Association for Spiritual Care and College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario. A spiritual care practitioner engages in empathy and compassion while delivering spiritual care. They help clients and families to maintain a sense of identity, connection, meaning and purpose, as well as hope to promote healing. They use spiritually integrated psychotherapy and build therapeutic relationships with clients and families with an emphasis on spirituality. Through spiritual care, we offer meditation sessions, prayers, sacred texts, rituals, consultation for ethical concerns, memorial services/celebration of life, and one-on-one visits with clients, families and staff. Spiritual care entails presence and companionship.

How do you envision your role contributing to the holistic care of clients, families and employees at Holland Bloorview?

Spirituality is the connection of mind, body, and spirit that cannot be separated from physical, social, and psychological health. It is a fundamental dimension of person-centered holistic care with its contributions that aim to support the individual’s spiritual health. Spirituality offers coping and finding meaning in suffering, which provides a unique perspective to clients, families, and employees that can be further used as ways of connection, acceptance, comfort, and strength. We use a psycho-spiritual aspect of healing, which plays a vital role in holistic care.

Holland Bloorview serves a diverse community with various spiritual and religious backgrounds. How do you work with different faiths and beliefs, to ensure your spiritual care services are inclusive and respectful of these diverse beliefs and practices?

Spiritual care incorporates culturally, spiritually, and religiously appropriate interventions. Spiritual care practitioners welcome everybody regardless of spiritual and/or religious background. My role as a spiritual care practitioner is to provide support from a nonjudgmental and inclusive perspective. Through clinical training, we learn to make connections to suffering from our own theology, which help us understand and provide support according to the individual’s specific spiritual needs. 

What unique challenges do staff face in a health care environment, and how can spirituality address these challenges?

Some of the challenges staff face in a healthcare environment might include work related pressure and anxiety, discrimination, feelings of detachment and loneliness, and burnout. Spirituality can address these challenges through connecting with body, mind, and spirit. Spiritual practices such as meditation and mindfulness, rituals, and prayers can help employees manage stress, prevent burnouts, reduce anxiety, and improve their spiritual well-being. Spirituality offers connectedness, hope, and meaning in life. Spiritual health provides a sense of being connected to the self and others, which can offer feelings of inclusiveness and collectiveness.

Given the ongoing world crises, how do you believe your role as a spiritual practitioner can provide unique support to staff, clients and families during these challenging times? Are there any crisis-specific spiritual or emotional support initiatives you’ve introduced or are planning to introduce to assist staff in navigating difficult situations?

Spiritual care practitioners are trained to work with challenging feelings and emotions reflected by individuals. Dealing with unpleasant emotions can be very challenging and we as humans tend to avoid or deny them, which is called spiritual bypassing. In spiritual care, we always encourage people to get in touch with their feelings, accept and embrace them as they are. We remind them that negative or irrational emotions are part of human nature. Focusing on positivity itself might not succeed without acknowledgment of negative emotions. We need to stop the bleeding before putting a bandage over the wound. This is also associated with trauma, grief, and healing. That being said, the IDEAA (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Accessibility and Anti-Racism) team here at Holland Bloorview and I are planning to lead a grief and healing circle for staff in the coming weeks. The purpose of the circle is to encourage staff to share and reflect on world crises in a safe space.

Can you share some strategies or programs you implement to assist staff in coping with stress and emotional challenges related to their work?

Staff support falls under spiritual care scope of practice. A spiritual care practitioner is available to support staff struggling with challenging emotions and feelings related to the workplace. Some of the programs I have been planning to deliver include code lavender and drop in sessions for mindfulness-based meditation. Code lavender is a tool for staff support, which can be declared after a very stressful situation and is designed as a debrief session where staff can openly talk about their feelings in a safe space provided by a spiritual care practitioner. 

How do you envision integrating spirituality into the workplace culture to create a supportive environment for staff, clients and families?

I envision the integration of spirituality into our workplace culture as a means to cultivate an environment that is not only supportive but also inclusive. This can be achieved through educational programs, open discussions about the role of spirituality in healthcare, and the provision of resources for staff, clients, and families to access spiritual care as needed. The aim is to embrace the diverse spiritual and religious needs of our community and foster an atmosphere of acceptance and warmth.

Can you share a pivotal point in your career or personal story in your career that left a lasting impact?

One of the most significant and enduring moments in my career occurred while providing spiritual care to an elderly patient, who was struggling with guilt and shame that resulted in loneliness and isolation of self from his community. He felt as a burden on his family and friends and decided not to disclose his hospital stay that included a major surgery. I approached him with empathy and compassion while being present in the moment. I listened to his story and provided a different perspective to his struggle. We connected the following day as per his request. During the second visit, he said he reflected on our previous conversation and had decided to reach out to his friends. His tears were replaced with a beautiful smile. That simple perspective helped him reconnect with his friends and community and he was grateful for the spiritual care intervention. Supporting him in finding light in the darkness that included the feelings of guilt, shame, and loneliness, helped him view things differently. This moment not only left a lasting impact on my professional journey but also reaffirmed the essential nature of the work we do as spiritual care practitioners, guiding individuals and families through some of life's most trying moments with empathy and compassion.

What is your greatest motivation in your work as a spiritual care advisor? 

My primary motivation as a spiritual care practitioner is the opportunity to provide solace, comfort, and guidance during the most challenging moments in people's lives. I find immense satisfaction in assisting individuals and families in connecting with their spiritual and emotional well-being, facilitating their healing, and guiding them through their journeys of faith and purpose. The knowledge that I can positively impact the well-being and overall experience of clients, families, and staff drives my commitment to this role.

Looking ahead, what is your vision for this role in the coming years, considering the evolving nature of healthcare and world events?

In the years to come, I foresee spirituality playing an increasingly pivotal role in healthcare. The changing landscape of healthcare and global events have underscored the necessity for a holistic approach that addresses not only physical health but also emotional, psychological, and spiritual well-being. I envision spirituality becoming an even more integral part of healthcare practices, with a greater emphasis on training healthcare professionals to recognize and respect the spiritual beliefs and needs of clients and their families. My vision is for spiritual care to be an intrinsic component of the healthcare journey, contributing to the overall healing and well-being of individuals, families, and healthcare providers.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I'd like to emphasize the importance of open communication and collaboration among staff. It's essential for all team members to work together to ensure that spiritual care is seamlessly integrated into the client experience. Additionally, I encourage everyone to approach spirituality with an open heart and mind, as it is a deeply personal and meaningful aspect of human existence. Lastly, I'm here to support and assist all members of our hospital community, so please don't hesitate to reach out if you have any questions, concerns, or if you believe that spiritual care could benefit you or your loved ones in any way.

For more information about Holland Bloorview’s spiritual care program, please visit our website

Related article (2021): In spiritual care, ‘suffering needs to be touched and held tenderly.”