SACH   Soundings  

No 17  March 2004



Deflated but not completely in the dark

Derek Brown President of SACH

I was travelling home late one night quite recently when I was aware of a dull rumble from underneath the car and a curious lack of control from the steering. You've guessed it, I can tell. I had a puncture. I ground to a halt at the side of the road and took in my situation. It was dark. It was very cold. It was somewhere in between rain and sleet. I wondered idly whether punctures ever happen on warm summer nights with balmy air and birdsong.
My next thought as I opened the boot to look for the spare tyre was, is the jack there? Where does it go? Why don't I have a torch? You'll be glad to know that everything went smoothly and I continued on my way a little colder, somewhat damper, and a trifle wiser.
It made me think about having the basic tools to do the job. I managed to change the tyre because I knew roughly what to do even if I didn't have all the optimum equipment and had had to look at the car manual to remind myself of where the jacking point actually was.
When it comes to chaplaincy perhaps you can begin to see the parallels. Are we properly equipped to deal with all possible eventualities? We have to ask ourselves:

  • Are we competent?
  • Do we have the correct information?
  • Can we deal with what happens, professionally and personally?

In the drive to achieve professional status within the NHS these questions will be asked of us as chaplains move from being a Cinderella service to, if not Prince Charming, then at least a royal footman. It's certainly a worthy cause and will be an asset in helping us foster truly holistic care of all those who use and work in the health service. There remains the possibility that more will be asked of us as spiritual care policies come into force, hopefully with sufficient funding to make them achievable, and chaplains become more integrated to the system.
The question I have to ask is this: Are we ready for it? As a body corporate I'm sure the answer will be yes. Work is going on to develop general chaplaincy standards following on from the very helpful ones in palliative care. There are codes of conduct, knowledge frameworks and competencies to consider too. All of which will give us a firm foundation on which to develop and maintain chaplaincy in the 21st century.
But what about individual chaplains? How do you feel about the changes that are coming? Does the prospect of becoming an employee of health board rather than the church fill you with joy or dread? What do you think of continuing professional development?
I'm not usually one for making predictions, but I've a sneaking suspicion that things will be very different in five years time. It's vital that chaplains are involved in helping shape as much of this change as is possible, not just for our own terms of service but also, and most importantly, for the benefit of those we seek to serve. It is to this end that the Executive has had meetings with the College of Health Care Chaplains and the Association of Hospice and Palliative Care Chaplains to examine ways of working together on these crucial issues that will affect all chaplains in Scotland.
We'll keep you posted on what happens in these discussions. In the meantime, there is the opportunity to put your questions or points of view to other members through the pages of Soundings. We'll do our best to ensure that even if these changes leave you feeling a bit deflated, you'll not be completely in the dark


A Place of Sanctuary

The Sanctuary in the new Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh was opened and dedicated on St. Andrew's Day 2003. During a simple meditation, woven around the music of the clarsach, representatives of different faiths and philosophies placed gifts to resource the Sanctuary for reflection and prayer. The space was dedicated by all saying together:
May this place, which we now dedicate by our presence, our prayers and our best hopes, be that 'other' place - amidst busy wards, stressful days, demanding and complex care, the unexpected and unforeseen, the best and worst that life can bring - a place where people may be themselves and… find sanctuary.

The Sanctuary has been designed as an 'arts as place making' project, with the intention that the fabric of the space itself should be evocative of an open spiritual ethos, with no dominant religious symbols permanently in place. Although the quality of the outcome is in the eye of the beholder, it has quickly become clear that the Sanctuary is being used more frequently and by a widening range of people than had been the case for the old Hospital Chapel in recent years. The Chaplaincy Team at RIE are happy to share the process and outcome with colleagues.

Sandy Young
Chaplain Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh


Tree of Life at Woodend

The New Chapel/Quiet Room in Woodend Hospital, Aberdeen was opened on 6th February by an act of worship and meditation. This was led by two Chaplains formerly based at Woodend, Alison Hutchison and Muriel Knox and Marian Cowie and Mark Rodgers, who are the recently appointed Chaplains at Woodend . On account of the name of the Hospital, the predominance of wood in the interior of the Chapel and a specially commissioned tree of life banner that is one of its central features, the tree of life was used as a central motif for the act of meditation. The tree of life was identified as a universal religious theme.
During the act of worship there were readings from Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Buddhist Scriptures that reflected this universality and underlined the desire that the new space would be a be a place of shade and comfort for those of all faiths and none in the midst of life's hurts and pains. As well as the tree of life banner another feature of the Chapel will be a prayer tree, allowing those who use the Chapel to fill in a prayer slip and attach them to the tree.

The idea of the new Chapel was a long time in the creating. Woodend did not previously have a Quiet Room/Chapel and Sunday services will continue to be held elsewhere in the hospital, but this small room will hopefully in the future prove to be a place of sanctuary and peace for whoever needs it.

Mark Rodgers
Chaplain, Woodend Hospital, Aberdeen



A New Children's Hospital in Aberdeen

The new Royal Aberdeen Children's Hospital opened its doors on the 25th January. Spread over five floors, with some seven hundred rooms, the new building has many distinctive features. There are 43 individual rooms for patients each with a fold down bed for parents to stay with their child. Plus 20 parent suites for those whose children are in 5 bedded rooms. Over £600,000 has been spent on artwork - the 'internal' but outer wall of the Chapel is lined with 58,500 buttons. After a visit, a representative from Grampian Local Health Council wrote, 'first impressions are of a light, bright space, with funky floors and furniture.'
Funding was provided by NHS Grampian with an additional £5,000,000 plus, raised by public appeal. From the latter, a new Chaplains' Office with work and meeting space was provided and a new Chapel gifted (so named by a multi-faith group of Hindu, Christian, Muslim and Buddhist representatives from Grampian Racial Equality Council).

The architect was asked to create a space that by design would speak of the spiritual/ religious as well as feeling affirming and comforting. The end result is a distinctively oval shaped room, with variable lighting and a floor to ceiling, 4 panel, abstract stained glass window, celebrating life in the North East of Scotland. The window can be viewed on To-date what has been most often remarked upon is the tangible stillness of the space, the feeling of calm and the sound of silence.

It is hoped that this will not be lost in a few weeks when (for the technically minded) a remote controlled MP3 player will be installed which will allow those using the Chapel, should they so choose, to select a range of music and sound both secular and religious.
The Chapel has already been established as a significant place in the hospital and the response from the many children and adults who have visited, has been tremendously positive.

James Falconer
Chaplain at Royal Aberdeen Children's Hospital


New Date for the AGM

!! Change of date !!
We've had to change the date of the 2004 AGM
So, for all of you who immediately
put the date in your diary after reading Training Matters …….
here is the new date
Tuesday 26th October 2004
More details to follow


Just a reminder ……..

about a year ago we set up an account to enable us to help SACH members attend conferences. Recently we were able to respond to a request from the Journal editorial board to fund one of their members at a conference in Aberdeen. We were able to set up the account because many of you gave a voluntary contribution (of around £10). We are keen to maintain the Conference Fund but can only do this with your help. It you feel able to give something towards it, we would be most grateful. And remember that you can apply to us for conference funding.

Monica Stewart


Building Links with Canada
The Conference of CAPPE /ACPEP
in Ottawa, Canada 4-7 February 2004

Chris Levison

Three delegates travelled from Scotland to Canada for the annual conference of the Canadian Association for Pastoral Practice and Education (or Association Canadienne pour la Practique et l'Education Pastorales). We were: Val Duff who is minister at Glasgow Garthamlock and who has trained in Clinical Pastoral Education and Supervision in the USA; Bob Devenny who was born in Canada but who has worked for a number of years in the Borders. His research project is looking into the spiritual needs of stroke patients. Bob has done, and is progressing through, the CPE training through Canadian contacts; and myself, the Training and Development Officer for chaplaincy. Bob had suggested a visit previously, but this time there had been communication with himself and Val concerning a possible link up which might help the accreditation of courses and the certification of teachers in Scotland.

Our objectives were to explore something of the CPE culture of Canadian chaplaincy, to establish links with an association which is further developed in this area than ourselves, and to see what might be gained for the Scottish situation through links, either formal or informal, during the establishment of CPE provision at home.

After a long journey we arrived in Ottawa late in the evening, which was the early hours of the next morning according to our time clocks. The Chateau Cartier resort hotel had been taken over for the event and is a large hotel on the Quebec side of the Ottawa River. The Theme of the conference was "To Explore the meaning and tangible signs of soul in an organisation". To learn how to nurture this idea of soul and see how it might be applied in local situations.

Clincial Pastoral Supervision

The first day was optional for the Canadians with seminar choices. The one most relevant for us was dealing with Clinical Pastoral Supervision, led by Tom O'Connor, a director of pastoral counselling, a writer, teacher and supervisor in CPE. The day was a condensed version of one of his courses and was very stimulating. Clinical Pastoral Supervision is an educational process between a qualified supervisor and a group of supervisees to develop skills (competencies) in ministry with a pastoral identity, to transform and empower and enable them to be more effective in their ministry. Clinical is a word deriving from "Kline" meaning "bedside" and "pastoral" has a Judeo Christian origin. The type of theology was one which grew out of actual situations and was not the application of systems or fixed doctrines. It had resonances for me of Liberation Theology but in particular pastoral situations. He talked of the supervisory relationship which encouraged growth in those involved, it was "theology on the run" but still dealt with the themes of sin, grace and redemption. The clinical method in supervision was very much about where people really are and it saw the chaplain in several roles such as manager, guide, consultant and celebrant. The Clinical Rhombus pictured the different types of relationship and he spoke of ethics and evaluation. The six areas of evaluation were : supervisory relationship, personal growth, professional growth, theological reflection, learning context and overall learning. This was a stimulating day with use of role play and discussion.

A variety of speakers

The first speaker in the main conference was Pierre Michel Allard - who is a highly respected figure in chaplaincy, in the Correctional Services (Prisons) and in government. He spoke of the experiences he had had as a prison chaplain, of the practice of "restorative justice" and of the difficulties experienced in recognising and bringing out the humanity and gifts of those who were seen as prisoners, or patients or members of large institutions. He showed two cartoons at the end of his talk - one of a fingerprint, emphasising the uniqueness of each person, and another, a wooden cart with square wheels being pulled with difficulty by two men, and inside the cart, the load it was carrying was a pile of round wheels. Pierre was very French , but his wife who he introduced to me was a "Mackenzie".

Sister Elizabeth Davies, a Roman Catholic sister has worked in education and health care all her life. For five years she was Chief Executive Officer of St John's , Newfoundland at a time when, due to demographic changes, there was a need for several hospital closures. She had lived through difficult times and had worked in an often hostile environment. She was very impressive and maintained a lot of contact with the fishing community where she was brought up. Her talk was valuable and thought provoking.

Michael Jones, a musician and composer introduced a variety of music and reflection into a talk which is difficult to pin down. He talked about meaning and shared leadership and encouraged people from the floor to speak about their feelings in the conference. This was culturally quite different from most presentations and although he came across well and relaxed it was difficult to filter what was coming across.

One threesome of speakers were talking about ethics, spirituality and business. They were super-confident, but I felt pretentious and theologically naïve. I found it hard to listen and eventually did not. Reaction among the other delegates was mixed. If I had used such speakers in a Scottish context, I might have been run out of town. This reminded me that the culture of North America can be quite different in some areas from our own.

Meeting the Executive

Our small delegation was invited to meet over dinner one evening with the executive of CAPPE. They were very interested in our situation and eager to be of any help. They understood the experience and qualifications of Val, had some understanding of what Bob was doing, but found it quite difficult to work out where I was, the relationship with the SEHD with chaplains and faith communities and Health Boards. The president of CPE in the USA also joined us for that dinner and get together and our hostess was Catherine Cornutt, the Canadian Association President. Not only on that evening but throughout the event there was a great interest in Scotland and what is happening here. Clearly being Scottish is a good thing to be in Canada.

Similar issues

Various documents have been and can be shared and it was fascinating to hear of many of the same issues being faced there as here. Who should employ chaplains - denominations or the health service? How can there be a scheme which suggests the need for numbers of chaplains or chaplaincy sessions ? The privacy and data protection issue is also a live one. Interestingly, I was told that lawyers have won a case to say that the harm done by ministers not having access to patient lists is more serious than the harm done by inappropriate information going to ministers and chaplains. Perhaps there is a pointer for us there. The vast majority of chaplains are whole time and the CPE scheme with competencies and a body of knowledge is the regular way into this work. They are planning to set up colleges of chaplains in various states, which sound more akin to our planning towards a health care profession.

All work and no play….

It was not all hard work of course and I managed to do that which all true tourists to Ottawa in winter must do - I skated the length and back of the frozen Rideau Canal. At the end of the conference I visited my sister in Burlington Ontario, played ice hockey with nephews and nieces, crossed an ice covered lake wearing snow shoes, and of course, went to Niagara to see the falls with mountains of ice, making impressive shapes. Perhaps next year I will manage a trek to the Pole - or maybe not.

Scating on the Rideau Canal

Our objectives I believe were met. We learned a lot and met many from a large variety of situations and national backgrounds (including Estonian and Swiss). There will be further contact I am sure and I am encouraged by the quality of many of the people and much of the work being done. I am grateful to the Study leave scheme of the Board of National Mission for making the trip possible. Iit was very worthwhile.

You can find out more about CAPPE on their website:


Tracey will join the Unit

Tracey Sharp will replace Andrew Moore at the Training and Development Unit. Her present job title is "Clinical Audit Manager" in the Trauma Division of Glasgow Royal Infirmary. She has a degree in Psychology and a Masters in Public Health. She has worked in Dundee, Paisley and Glasgow and has experience in research methods and clinical audit in several areas. Her responsibilities have included developing clinical effectiveness strategies and the redesign of services.
Her work with standards and clinical governance will enable her to play a vital role in the clinical standards work we are beginning with Quality Improvement Scotland, as well as working with the various Health Boards and Spiritual Care Committees. She has an interest in spiritual care in its broad sense and believes this to be an important and often under recognised aspect of care. I am confident that she will become a valuable asset to the Training and Development Unit and thus to chaplaincy and spiritual care in Scotland. I think Tracey will enjoy getting to know the chaplains as well as many others and I'm sure that chaplains will enjoy getting to know her.

Chris Levison
Training and Development Officer


Reflections on a National Agenda
Spiritual Care comes of age?

David Mitchell
Lecturer in Palliative Care, Marie Curie Hospice, Glasgow

For the past 18 months I have represented the Scottish Branch of the Association of Hospice and Palliative Care Chaplains on the UK national executive. The experience has given me a real insight into chaplaincy on a wider perspective and the distinct differences there are north and south of the border. There is a real truth in the saying 'small is beautiful'.

Looking back the past two years have seen a considerable focus on spiritual care on a national agenda: Reports, Guidelines, Standards and Competencies galore. In many ways Scotland has led the field and our Guidelines on Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care in the NHSScotland are the envy of other parts of the UK and beyond (NHS HDL (2002)76). When you hear of the 'turf wars' there are over training and development in England, and the tensions between the churches, CHCC and the different chaplaincy and multifaith groups you learn to really appreciate what we have in Scotland: the openness ofthe churches and chaplaincy organisations to working together, and the independence of Chris Levison and the Healthcare Chaplaincy Training and Development Unit for Scotland.

The hospice and palliative care chaplains have been playing an active part on the national agenda too: building on the NHS QIS Clinical Standards for Specialist Palliative Care (CSBS 2002) and completing the process by launching standards for chaplaincy services and competencies for individual chaplains and healthcare professionals. The competencies in particular have the potential to have a profound impact on the delivery of spiritual care by all staff and chaplains in particular. Although designed primarily for hospices, the competencies could be adapted for other specialist areas of chaplaincy.

Add to that the work CHCC has been doing in regard to registration of chaplaincy as an Associated Healthcare Profession (by 2007) and I'd say Spiritual Care is very much in vogue and has a significant focus within the healthcare agenda. Below is a list of recent national publications all of which are available on-line. Peruse at your leisure and see for yourself the national impact chaplaincy is enjoying at present. Apart from the small forest of paper they create I'd suggest it is a sign that spiritual care has very much 'come of age'.

AHPCC 2004 Guidelines for hospice and palliative care appointments. Association of Hospice and Palliative Care Chaplains, Help the Hospices London.
AHPCC 2003 Standards for Hospice and Palliative Care Chaplaincy. Association of Hospice and Palliative Care Chaplains, Help the Hospices, London.
CSBS 2002 Clinical Standards Board for Scotland: Clinical Standards for Specialist Palliative Care. NHS Quality Improvement Scotland, Edinburgh.
DOH 2003 Agenda for Change - a modernised NHS pay system. Department of Health
MCCC 2003 Spiritual and Religious Care Competencies for Specialist Palliative Care. Marie Curie Cancer Care, London
NHS 2003 NHS Chaplaincy: Meeting the religious and spiritual needs of patients and staff. Guidance for managers and those involved in the provision of chaplaincy - spiritual care. Department of Health, London
NHS HDL 2002 Guidelines on Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care in the NHS in Scotland. NHSScotland Health Department Letter (2002) 76, Scottish Executive Health Department, Edinburgh.
NICE 2003 Draft Guidelines - Supportive and Palliative Care National Institute for Clinical Excellence, Department of Health.
SYWDC 2003 Caring for the Spirit. South Yorkshire Workforce Development Unit:


Congratualtions to the Association of Hospice and Palliative Care Chaplains on their new Website and Newsletter. The Association is now exchanging Newsletters with SACH. You can find their website at




Healthcare Chaplaincy Training and

Development Group

Meeting: 26 February 2004

As the SACH representative on the HCTD Group, it falls to me to highlight the main areas of discussion at each meeting.
As reported last time, one of the main changes to the HCTD Unit has been the departure of Andrew Moore who took up his new post with Ayrshire and Arran Health Board on 8th December. It is hoped to have a replacement in post soon, but problems over releasing the successful applicant for a one-year secondment have delayed the appointment. To complicate matters further, Roey Knowles, Secretary in the Unit, tendered her resignation, which took effect from the middle of February. This has left Chris and the Unit considerably under-resourced, though Roey is helping out on a temporary part-time basis until that post is filled.

Details of forthcoming study days and conferences have been advertised through 'Training Matters' and the website - - Paediatric on 24th March in Aberdeen; For All Chaplains at Crieff Hydro on 20th April; Whole-Time Residential at Carberry, 2nd - 3rd June; Mental Health in Perth on 7th September. Further details of all of these from the Unit - 0141 201 5392 or E-mail: .

Exploratory discussions continue with the Scottish Schools of Divinity and Religious Studies and representatives of the Chaplaincy associations regarding an Introductory Course for Chaplaincy, possibly with a CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) component. Concern was expressed at the meeting about the apparent promotion of CPE as the main tool for reflective practice in chaplains' personal professional development. Chris gave an undertaking that opportunity would be given to discuss the issue at the Whole-Time Conference in June.

The Unit, through Chris, is also fully involved in current negotiations regarding the possible transfer from the Church of Scotland to direct employment of chaplains by Health Boards.

As reported in the last issue of 'Soundings', the HCTD Unit was set up in 2001, for an initial three-year period. There has been informal confirmation by the Department of Health that the work of the Unit will continue, though official ratification regarding posts and the Unit's place within NHS Education is still awaited.

The Group next meets on Thursday 27th May.

Iain Telfer
Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh


Lots of Love

Stella Sutherland,
Bressay, Shetland

A phrase's face
becomes too commonplace.
Like "making love".

Glance across a crowded room
may indeed begin the dance
of something great.

But let the prism rotate,
incline a subtle little,
another facet shines!

Watch lifeboatmen, helicoptermen,
awash, pick folk from rocks,
ships, from cruel waste of living:

duel with elements,
a saving love, art and part
of the great heart.

Gathering gear, cash,
for Romania, Ethiopia,
anywhere there's need,
is reach of love, regard.

See nurses on a geriatric ward
hugging, holding hands
with wandering people.

And carers, watching late,
catching rest as they can,
their charge meandering on.

The love they make
is true as death, aching,
soothing, tending,

Lots of love, not lost,
mending the breaking
world, sending it round.

"A Celebration and Other Poems",
by Stella Sutherland, Author of "Aa My Selves: Poems 1940-1980", 1991 Published by Stella Sutherland, Bressay, Shetland.

Helicopter at Bressay Lighthouse

Margaret Denvil, a chaplain from Richmond, Virginia suggested we print this poem.



Scottish Journal of Healthcare Chaplaincy

Journal articles only a "click" away

The editors are pleased to announce that all back issues of the Journal are now available in full text on-line on the SACH website. This has the potential to significantly increase the readership of the Journal throughout the world and will make it much easier for students and those conducting research to access the articles published in the Journal. The next step will be to link the Journal to the NHS e-library and the various healthcare databases.

The process involved a considerable amount of work in preparing the earlier paper versions and the editors wish to record their thanks to Fred Coutts for his support, expertise, and the long hours spent preparing the Journals for the website.

We are currently preparing Volume 7 No 1 and planning Volume 7 No 2. As always we would welcome papers for consideration by the Editorial Board. An increasing number of chaplains are undertaking academic study or research - have you considered writing up your assignment or dissertation for the Journal? The editors are happy to discuss suggestions and offer insights and advice on how an article might be developed.

Georgina Nelson & David Mitchell
Joint Editors


From East to West, from shore to shore ……

(CH3 189)

I'd like to tell you how I'm going to be spending 3 weeks of the coming Spring - and why. During the last week of April I'm setting off to walk across Scotland, a coast to coast walk of about 200 miles. The route I'm planning is (roughly) this: from Aberdeen, along Deeside to Braemar, through Glen Feshie to Speyside, Kingussie to Fort William via Corrour and Glen Nevis, finishing at Inverie, Knoydart where, I am told, I'll find the remotest pub in Britain. Some of my friends and family have volunteered to do sections of the walk with me. I'll stay in hostels, bothies and camp for a couple of nights (if I really have to!). All being well I should complete the walk in just under three weeks.

There are several reasons for wanting to do this but I'll just mention two: the first is simply that I like the idea. It's an adventure! The second is that I'd like to raise some money for the Iona Community's Growing Hope appeal. In February the Community launched this 2-year appeal to raise £1 million. The money is for two specific projects. Anyone who has visited Iona recently will have noticed that the Community's coffee house has closed. Part of the money will go towards refurbishing and reopening the coffee house. It was an important place on the island - not only a place where weary pilgrims could find sustenance and shelter from the latest Hebridean storm; it was also a place where people met and friendships were formed.
The second project involves renovation work at Camas, the Community's centre on Mull. Camas welcomes young people from urban and inner city areas. The centre is based in old fishing cottages in a beautiful and isolated bay, a mile and a half from the nearest road. It offers young folk the chance to learn about the environment, about how to live in community and about how to live simply (there's no electricity and no flushing toilets!).

So, if I don't turn up at the next Exec meeting, you'll know why …… lost in a bog!

Monica Stewart
Assistant Chaplain, Aberdeen

If you would like to
sponsor Monica,
contact her at:
Monica Stewart
Chaplains' Office
Aberdeen Royal Infirmary
Foresterhill, ABERDEEN AB22 2SN





The next edition of SACH Soundings will be published in June 2004. 
Send news, articles,  pictures, stories and ideas to:

Rev Fred Coutts
Chaplains’ Office
Aberdeen Royal Infirmary
AB25 2ZN

Tel: 01224 553316 
Fax: 01224 554551