Scottish Journal of Healthcare Chaplaincy

Vol 4 No 2 October 2001


'Total pain' is a concept with which those of us who work in healthcare chaplaincy are only too familiar. The many facets of human suffering which we come across in the course of our daily work require us to draw deeply upon our own spiritual traditions and resources, in order to minister to those who suffer. 

That ministry makes heavy demands upon us as persons, both in terms of the ability to look within our-selves with honesty, and the ability to reach out to others without fear or reserve. It also requires of us the thoughtfulness, faithfulness and loving insight which enables theology to bear fruit in relationships which are healing and sustaining. 

Chris Sugden reminds us of the complexities of total pain, and of how it needs to be addressed by a multidisciplinary team, of which the chaplain is a part. George Beuken too speaks of suffering, and employs the riches of the Roman Catholic tradition in order to work towards a theological foundation for palliative care. The reality of total pain wove itself into the experience of Christ Himself, the same Christ whom the church makes present in suffering, in compassion and in healing power. Ken Coulter, in a timely and topical contribution, also writes of suffering; the suffering of the asylum seeker in our midst. He explores some of the theological resources of a past generation, in search of a creative response to those who suffer in the present. 

What future directions might healthcare chaplaincy take? Four of our contributors address this subject in different ways. Chaplin and Mitchell report upon a plea made for education of healthcare professionals on the subject of spirituality and spiritual care, and in ways of 'sharing the care' through multi-professional working. Kenneth Owens writes of a future in which the contributions, traditions and insights of Roman Catholic chaplains might be fully valued, as chaplaincy moves towards being 'an inclusive inter-faith community'. 

Fred Coutts expresses the hope that chaplaincy in future will find nourishment in a closer understanding of the many diverse traditions which exist Europe wide. (I am reminded of Ken Owens' words about ' a difference that enhances rather than separates'). And in her piece on chaplaincy volunteer visitors, Gillian Munro reminds us that the future will require us to make use of the wide variety of gifts of ministry which ordinary men and women of faith possess; chaplaincy will surely more and more become a shared enterprise.

This edition features several articles related to palliative care and hospice. We hope that those of you who work in another setting might feel able to write on the basis of your own experience and area of expertise. We are particularly interested in receiving contributions on the theme of spirituality and mental health problems., including Alzheimer's disease.

Print Editorial (PDF Format)

Chris Sugden

Pages 2-7

Through two distinctive case studies the author illustrates the complex nature of total pain. He describes how the physical, psychological social and spiritual elements of what it is to be human are so intertwined that they need the skills of a team of gifted professionals to help the patient and the family in their suffering. The discussion explores the pitfalls for professionals who retreat into their professional boundaries, and the benefits of a multidisciplinary approach

Key Words: good communication, multidisciplinary team working, total pain, palliative care, suffering

Chris Sugden
Consultant in Palliative Medicine at St Andrew's Hospice Airdrie, Lanarkshire

Full Text (PDF Format)

Jacquelyn Chaplin and David Mitchell

Pages 8-11

Within the field of palliative care recent years have seen a marked increase in chaplaincy provision, and a widening debate on how all healthcare professionals have the potential to provide spiritual care. This article gives a summary of a study day that brought together a wide range of healthcare professionals from hospices and hospitals in Scotland to discuss ways to integrate spiritual care and chaplaincy into the current settings and practice of palliative care. It draws conclusions and offers local and national agendas to take initiatives forward and sets challenges for the host organisation The Association of Hospice Chaplains in Scotland

Key Words: chaplaincy, education, palliative care, research, spiritual care, support

Jacquelyn Chaplin
Senior Lecturer
David Mitchell
Marie Curie Centre, Hunter's Hill, Glasgow

Full Text (PDF Format)

Kenneth Owens

Pages 12-16

This article takes a past, present and future look at healthcare chaplaincy from the perspective of the Roman Catholic  (RC) Church in Scotland. It explores the traditions and experiences of chaplaincy in the context of a changing National Health Service (NHS), a multi-faith Scotland, and a changing Roman Catholic community. It offers insight into the future focused on a broad understanding of Spiritual care and chaplaincy. The author concludes with positive advice and encouragement for the RC Church, its bishops, the NHS, and all organisations associated with healthcare chaplaincy

Key Words: Chaplaincy, ecumenical, multi-faith, Roman Catholic, spiritual, training and development

Kenneth Owens
Parish priest in St John Vianney's in Gilmerton, Edinburgh and does consultancy work in the healthcare system on behalf of the Roman Catholic Church.

Full Text (PDF Format)

George Beuken

Pages 17-21

This article argues that a Roman Catholic theology of palliative care must be rooted in the sacramental ministry of the Church. If Jesus Christ is the Sacrament of God, then the Church is rightly understood as the Sacrament of Jesus Christ. The Church's nature is realised most fully in and through the individual sacraments, since in this way she makes Christ present, and is his continuation. The Christ whom the Church makes present embodies an intensity of suffering and compassion which must lie at the heart of the palliative care offered by God's people to the sick.

Key Words: Roman Catholic; palliative care; pastoral care; sacrament; church; suffering.

George Beuken
Pastoral Director at St Andrew's Hospice, Airdrie

Full Text (PDF Format)

Ken Coulter

Pages 22-25

The area served by Stobhill Hospital in Glasgow has become the home for the majority of Asylum Seekers in Scotland, which has had a profound impact on the local community and the hospital. While there are religious issues, what hampers spiritual care most are communication problems. This article seeks to set practical concerns and experiences expressed by hospital staff, chaplains and parish clergy in a theological context and draws inspiration from European theologians who had to wrestle with the reality of a Europe with displaced people damaged by atrocity and genocide in the 1930s and 1940s.

Key words: Asylum Seekers, Spiritual Needs, Communication, Theology, Suffering, Narrative

Ken Coulter
Part-time Chaplain at Stobhill Hospital, Glasgow

Full Text (PDF Format)

Fred Coutts

Pages 26-28

The author suggests that it is to Europe and not North America that Scottish Chaplains should now be looking for ideas about future development in chaplaincy. The growth of significance of the European Union in the everyday life of Scotland dictates that chaplains must be willing to take their concerns for standards in spiritual care to the European institutions. An important focus for this is to be found in the European Network of Health Care Chaplaincy, founded at Chania in Crete in November 2000.

Key words: Europe, European Union, network, healthcare chaplaincy, Chania Declaration

Fred Coutts
Chaplain, Grampian University Hospitals and part-time Healthcare Chaplaincy Training Officer for Scotland

Full Text (PDF Format)

Gillian Munro

Pages 29-33

In the ever changing world of healthcare, hospitals are experiencing shorter stays, and increased patient throughput. Spiritual care has also seen a marked rise in profile and chaplains are increasingly seeing fewer patients for more in-depth work, often in a crisis, and find themselves increasingly responding to referrals from other members of staff. Add to that increasing opportunities to teach and its not surprising new approaches need to be developed. Gillian Munro explains the development of a chaplaincy volunteer visitor service as one approach to change, and three visitors tell us of their experiences.

Key Words: chaplaincy volunteer visitor, recruitment, training, commitment

Gillian Munro
Chaplain, Grampian University Hospitals

Full Text (PDF Format)


Pages 34-38

A selection of current books, and books soon to be published, are reviewed by professionals with hands on experience of healthcare and education.

Never Too Young to Know:  Death in children's lives
Silverman P R
ISBN 0 19 510954 6

Colours of Hope and Promise:  Personal stories of HIV & AIDS
Cullen B
ISBN 1 901557 09 X
Wild Goose, Glasgow

Iona Poems
Steven K C
ISBN 07152 0778 4
St Andrew Press, Edinburgh

Finding Hope and Healing through the Bible
Lawrence, R
ISBN 0 281 05281 6
Triangle Books

Child Protection in Primary Care
Polnay J (Ed)
ISBN 1 85775 224 4
Radcliffe Medical Press

The Dying Soul, spiritual care at the end of life
Cobb M
ISBN 0 335 20053 2
Open University Press

Fragile Lives, Death dying and care
McNamara B
ISBN 0 335 20899 1
Open University Press

Crucial Decision at the Beginnning of Life: Parents' experiences of treatment withdrawal from infants
McHaffie, H
ISBN 1 85775 479 4

Representations of Death
Bradbury M
ISBN 0 415 15022 1
Radcliffe Medical Press

Full Text (PDF Format)

The Rev. W. Noel Brown, Chaplain Supervisor, North-western Memorial Hospital, Chicago's bi-monthly compendium of his abstracts from the pastoral care literature and other people-helping professions.

Full Text (PDF Format)