No 24 December 2005
I have it on good authority that this really happened. A nurse was overheard talking to a patient in the following terms: “I've just come to tell you that the translator you asked for can't come today, but will be here tomorrow. Is that okay?”
Do you ever get the impression that we, as chaplains, may sometimes find ourselves addressing an uncomprehending audience yet thinking that we engaged in dialogue? There are a lot of things happening in the world of chaplaincy at the moment but we owe it to ourselves and to our patients to be sure that people understand what we are about.
Take the issue of data protection as an example. It's clear that in some quarters there is a lack of understanding of the nature of chaplaincy and the delivery of spiritual care in the 21 st century. I'm aware that the law was never intended to exclude chaplains from getting access to information but a certain interpretation allows for that. It is therefore very important that we take every opportunity to put our case to be treated as any other healthcare worker is. To that end the Executive supports the moves by Helen Eadie MSP to raise this in the Parliament, and will be engaged, with others, in the promised review of the HDL.
Perhaps one practical thing we could all do is using the recently published Code of Conduct (which is enclosed with this edition of Soundings) and let managers and decision makers see that we are serious about what we do. Having self-respect is the first stage to being respected by others.
At long last the issue of the proposed change of employment from church to NHS is being revived. (See John Thomson's article on page 6.) SACH is involved in the discussions and we will certainly keep you posted about any developments. It is to be hoped that there will be a speedy conclusion to this so as to put a period of uncertainty behind many of you and to allow for national terms and conditions of employment to be rolled out under Agenda for Change.
Following the success of the spring meeting in March the Executive have decided to hold a similar meeting next year towards the end of April. It is good to have business to discuss but it also important to have time to share ideas and give support to one another.A blessed Christmas to you all.
President of SACH
by U.A. Fanthorpe
No room in the inn, of course,
And not that much in the stable
What with the shepherds, Magi, Mary,
Joseph, the heavenly host –
Not to mention the baby
Using our manger as a cot.
You couldn't have squeezed another cherub in
For love or money.
Still, in spite of the overcrowding,
I did my best to make them feel wanted.
I could see the baby and I
Would be going places together.
SACH AGM Stirling Royal Infirmary 24th October 2005
I'm sure that most of you will have watched “A Question of Sport” on the TV at one time or another. There was, if you recall, a round of questions called ‘home and away', the idea being that the home question was about the individual's own sport while the away one could be about anything. The contestant got more points for answering an away question correctly because it was felt to be that bit harder.
That's not to say that home questions are necessarily any easier! At a recent quiz night in aid of the hospice one of the questions was ‘According to the Bible when did God create the sun and moon?' all eyes in my team focussed on me. I confidently stated that it was on the wrong day.
As I was looking at what's been happening over the last year the items seemed to fall into one of two categories, home and away. Let's start at home.
As most of you know the Board of National Mission of the Church of Scotland ceased to exist after the last General Assembly. It was the employer of most chaplains in Scotland. Before its demise it began the process of negotiating with Health Boards the transfer of its employees to NHS contracts. This process seems to have halted for no apparent reason and through the auspices of the SCDC we have been asking that this be re-started as soon as possible. As a body representing chaplains it is of no little concern to us that those chaplains still technically employed by the church will have less favourable terms and conditions compared to those directly employed especially when Agenda for Change takes effect.
It's a measure of the seriousness with which spiritual care is now being viewed that the body concerned with the quality of healthcare delivered in the country hosted a conference to report on the work of the group that was looking into standards in spiritual care. Rather than me tell you what these might be I will refer you to Gillian Munro's article in the current issue of the journal and to David Mitchell who was very much involved in the standards for palliative care. QIS invited interested parties to make a case for including either good practice statements or standards for spiritual care to the NHS. To that end I'm delighted to say that Gillian has agreed to represent SACH on the reassembled Scoping group.
The Spiritual Care Development Committee was set up by the Scottish Executive to provide NHS Scotland with a multi faith perspective on spiritual care matters. It also has representation from people involved with Patient Focus at the NHS and the new Health Council. Having all these parties on board provides for an extremely useful forum to share ideas, foster good relationships and for having direct access to the Health Minister through one of his top advisors.
I like to think of the journal as the jewel in SACH's crown. The executive is very grateful for the hard work that is put into each issue and for the quality of the material. We're delighted to support the editors in any way we can.
Now what about the away topics? A word of caution - all of them have a bearing on home!
The Chaplaincy Academic and Accreditation Board was set up as an advisory body to the professional organisations. It has a specific remit looking at, for example, the knowledge and skills required to become a chaplain and accrediting courses which can be part of CPD. Earlier this year the Executive agreed to sign a Memorandum of Understanding which sets out the relationships between the associations. For the time being CAAB will be funded proportionately by the three professional bodies but in time it will become self-financing through levying course fees.
Code of Conduct
This is an away topic because it was written down in England but was extensively commented on by the Executive and other groups of chaplains and individuals. The UK Professional Bodies which chaplains join exist to promote the very best standards of care. As part of that commitment we have had Code of Conduct to inform and advise our members. However it was beginning to show its age as the pace of change in health care has increased, and the complexity of modern services and user expectations has grown. “In the light of this the three bodies agreed to publish a new Code which sensitively locates chaplains within a framework of conduct that other staff and patients will recognize.”
There was some concern that there was too little time to comment on the draft but it is a dynamic document and it will be regularly reviewed.
This time last year I mentioned the initiative of SACH and AHPCC to be an honest broker for the various entities with an interest in chaplaincy in England and Wales. There has been a level of misunderstanding over the recent past and our fear was that a lot of good work could be overlooked as a result. Some issues such as registration and CPD have a direct bearing on chaplains in Scotland whether NHS or not and we felt that perhaps we could help stimulate discussions and dialogue.
This initiative has been well received and it has been fruitful to the extent that the three professional bodies are working very closely on matters of common concern, such as registration, the code of conduct, and academic standards. This clearly makes sense when resources and personnel are limited.
There was a proposal which came out of discussions with South Yorkshire SHA to set up a single UK wide chaplaincy association and we gave this idea much serious consideration in the Executive. It was not without merit but we felt that setting up another organisation was perhaps not the best way to move forward at this time. There would be too many unanswered questions about national and specialist concerns to be addressed in the time frame that was being proposed. However channels of communication have been opened up and perhaps some of these proposals can be revisited when some of the big issues, such as registration, have been resolved. That will not be for some time, however. You may have read the letter from the heads of the three organisations on the website which outlines our current position.
This really is an away topic! I have been serving on the committee of the network and we have just come back from a meeting in Istanbul where the EU did feature prominently, but not Turkey's part in it. We have had negotiations with high level officials about spiritual care and there is a proposal to have input into a paper being written for the Commissioner of Health on palliative care throughout Europe. You can read about some of this in the current issue of the journal.
Getting chaplaincy onto the EU agenda is quite an achievement and we want to build on that to help further the development of chaplaincy in Eastern Europe and consolidate what we have. Who knows we might even sort of the knotty problem of Data protection!
Welcome to new members of the Executive elected at the AGM in October:
Margery Collin (Falkirk)
Mark Rodgers (Aberdeen)
Ken Russell (Stirling)
Dawn Allan has now taken over as Secretary from Monica Stewart.
The Society for Intercultural Pastoral Care and Counselling/Gesellschaft fuer interkulturelle Seelsorge und Beratung (SIPCC) held its 18 th international seminar in Duesseldorf, Germany, during the first week of October 2005. The theme for this year, the 10 th anniversary of SIPCC, was ‘Intercultural and interfaith communication.'
The conference opened with a concert of mainly Jewish music, held in the church adjacent to the conference venue. The centre still maintains the residence for deaconesses who, inspired by Friedrich Fliedner in the earlier part of the 19 th century, have had long involvement in social care in the name of the church.
The next day, after celebrating harvest festival in the local church, and hearing more about the pioneering work of Fliedner and his wife Friederike, we began the formal part of the conference by hearing about life in the multicultural and multifaith city of Duesseldorf.
On following days, a particular aspect of the topic was focussed on: ‘intercultural competence', ‘interfaith communication' and ‘new perspectives for pastoral care and counselling.'
Depending on which groups we were in, or which workshops we chose to attend, the two topics which aroused most discussion, and a degree of confrontation, were the themes of competence and of interfaith dialogue.
In discussion about interfaith issues, as the only person present from the UK as a whole, I felt myself on several occasions to be ‘streets ahead' of the others. The workshop led by a Turkish Muslim, on the theme of ‘Principles of Islamic care in hospitals', was particularly disappointing because so many of the questions raised were requests for information about Islam rather than, as I had hoped, about how the Muslim community in Germany is providing care to its members. When given the opportunity to ask about care of those with psychiatric problems, the speaker responded that such care did not form a part of his talk. When I pushed further, the reply he gave was that those who are mentally ill would never be made to feel guilty about being ill; but that, since they are not responsible for their actions, there is no need for them to be visited or offered support.
The interfaith focus for the Germans at the seminar was, as to be expected, on dialogue with Muslims from Turkey. Participants from Eastern Europe were, in general, reluctant to discuss interfaith issues. They were, again as might be expected, more concerned with how to develop Christian pastoral care, and Protestant pastoral care in particular. They also felt the need to tell the rest of us more about their troubled political history, and about the difficult relationship of the church with other faiths in times past. They were conscious of their part of Europe having been perceived – and used politically - as a ‘buffer zone' between the Christian west and Islam to the east: a history which puts a very different perspective on ‘interfaith relations' to the perspective in the west.
The theme of ‘competence' produced more stimulating discussion, as well as heated debate, in the groups I attended. Use of the word ‘competence' itself was challenged by some members of our group as being ‘typically German' – a criticism strongly denied by the Germans present.
Some in our group felt that the search for ‘competence', or learning ‘competency skills' is an essential part of being able to offer pastoral care and counselling within a multicultural or multifaith community. Potential basic and essential ‘competencies' were considered, while the rest of us challenged this approach, by offering such alternative priorities as ‘relating' or ‘friendship', and the more traditional ‘being there' of pastoral care, whether interfaith or not.
By the end of the last day, on the theme of ‘new perspectives and challenges', we had come to no firm conclusions, but workshop leaders had offered interesting perspectives on pastoral care within their own local situations. Joseph George, Professor in the Dept of Christian Ministry at the United Theological College, Bangalore, India, conducted the workshop I attended, and led a challenging discussion on the relationship between pastoral counselling of individuals and the pastoral care required by those needing social and political support within the various religious communities of South India.
The conference as a whole was an enjoyable and stimulating experience, with opportunities to discuss familiar issues with people living and working in a wide range of situations and cultures.
There is, I feel, however, a need for the SIPCC seminars to become more intercultural, and to develop their interfaith perspective. The emphasis, despite the name of the organisation, is heavily Christian – and Protestant Christian in particular. They do give, nevertheless, the opportunity to ‘widen horizons' and to discuss issues related to pastoral care and counselling in a friendly and ‘safe' environment.
As the only member present from across the North Sea this year, I was elected at the SIPCC AGM to be the regional representative for Britain and Ireland. So if anyone reading this would like to know more about SIPCC, or has any suggestions about future themes, then do please contact me by email.
Dates for next year's conference are 17 to 22 September 2006. It will be held in the Academy of Mission, Hamburg University (an innovative and ecumenical department of mission).
The theme, in outline, has already been confirmed as ‘the relationship between mission in the 21 st century and new ways in pastoral care and counselling'.
At this stage, ideas for specific topics within the broad heading, or suggestions for speakers, would be much appreciated, so do please contact me with ideas or suggestions.
Information about seminars, and other aspects of the work of SIPCC can be found, in English as well as in German, on its web site www.sipcc.org
Other useful web sites in relation to pastoral care and counselling are those of the Scottish Association for Pastoral Care and Counselling (www.sapcc.org.uk) and of the International Council for Pastoral Care and Counselling, whose next Congress will take place in Hungary in August 2007 (www.icpcc.net).
Mental Health Chaplain, Edinburgh
Some NHS hospitals have been forced to
postpone operations in order to save cash.
This cartoon is taken from the
“A cartoonist doctor examines the world of Medicine”
where you will find other cartoons with a healthcare flavour. The site however, comes with a health warning:
Cartoons, when taken regularly, with or without meals, may help a person feel a bit better. However, in the unlikely event of side effects, 'Doctor Cartoon' accepts no responsibility for any complications which may result from viewing these pages...
Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still.
For once on the face of the Earth
let's not speak in any language,
let's stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.
It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines,
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.
Fishermen in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would look at his hurt hands.
Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victory with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.
What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about;
I want no truck with death.
If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.
Perhaps the Earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.
Now I'll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.
From Pablo Neruda, Extravagaria,translated by Alastair Reid
(Farrar, Straus & Giroux, USA, 2001)
(Fergus McLachlan, Chaplain at Inverclyde Royal Hospital in Greenock sent in this poem)
A meeting called by the Scottish Executive Health Department Human Resources Directorate was held in Glasgow on Friday 9 December 2005. This was in response to urgent pleas recently from the other bodies involved in the discussions earlier this year within the Chaplaincy Short Life Working Group whose proposal for the transfer of chaplains (from Church of Scotland to NHS Boards) had not been accepted by the NHS Human Resources Forum.
All parties were represented at Friday's meeting during which a summary of the development of the previous recommendation was reported and the present issues for the SEHD, the Church of Scotland and chaplains' associations were stated. This exchange of information was helpful in advancing to a position on which agreement could be reached for a practical way forward.
Subject to ‘a piece of work being done' it was agreed to go ahead as soon as possible with the transfer of employment (under TUPE legislation) of the group of 35 chaplaincy staff who are appointed with contracts of employment. It is anticipated that completion of this process will be in ‘months.'
The transfer of sessional chaplains, where there are separate issues, will be considered subsequent to the completion of the transfers for whole time and whole time equivalent staff.
John K Thomson
Ministries Support Officer
Church of Scotland
Council of Ministries
At a conference recently I was taken and impressed by the opening, setting the scene, address given by Phil Hanlon – Professor of Public health at Glasgow University. He spoke a bit about the good and the not so good changes in work life and society. The fact that we all work too hard and for too long hours. That we must be busy and able to complain or boast about it. He mentioned several theories about people being asked to operate at a strategic level above where they were comfortable, and about the standardisation of society – the Macdonaldisation which can be a good or a bad thing. He talked of the new aspirations and glorification of choice. He mentioned some modern literature and research which showed that up to a point choice is helpful, but once it becomes enormous it only breeds confusion , inability to decide and inactivity.
He talked about the good things that were happening in health in Scotland - coronary disease is improving as are cancer treatments and some ailments associated with poverty. He suggested what were the main health problems of the immediate future —sexually related diseases were becoming more common (40%) in the 15 to 24 age group, the increasing problem of obesity, and he predicted that the worst health problem of the next 25 years was going to be depression. Already the number of suicides is increasing and more people were suffering depressive spells. And the reason he thought was the lack of meaning or purpose in so many people's lives. The main cause of future ill health is going to be an inner cause and if we do not look to the inner life , to the spiritual aspect of our humanity, then we are in danger of a vast increase in depression and related problems.
At that point someone dug me in the ribs and said “Did you bribe him to say this?”.
It is quite amazing that with all the statistics we now have at our finger tips, and all the social or psycho-social reasons we have for understanding events and trends, a professor of public health can say to a conference mostly of health professionals and the majority of these GPs, that spiritual need of people, their need to be acknowledged and valued, the need for some cohesive search and understanding of meaning and or purpose, to be the most important health need of a generation.
My reactions to the address were several : from “Yes!” the message is getting through, to “Wow” that's me out of a job, or “Jings” the health service is on to the next stage and I'm not sure how well prepared I am for it, and “help” if this is where these guys are – I can already shake hands with my own identity crisis.
More seriously , there are signs that a door is open, and this has been the most encouraging thing about my relationship with health boards, chaplains and the variety of managers and health professionals who I have met and worked with over the past few years. The insight is there among many and the responsibility is that they are looking to us – those in chaplaincy/spiritual care to show and lead the way ahead. I find it exciting and quite awesome. There is a new openness to the importance of spirituality – and this includes religion as long as it is of an open variety which acknowledges the rights of those of all faith communities – and this is both challenge and invitation to our combining of competence and compassion in all that we do.
For competence we need to be more open as we reflect on our practice, we need to work at it and to make sure that we are educated and trained in the best ways. Compassion is a prerequisite for our work, and we free ourselves to be compassionate when we have the confidence to be ourselves and to relate to patients and staff members with our whole humanity. We have an opportunity and I hope we have the courage, the sense and the good faith to grasp it !
Chaplain helps mother and son meet after 14 years
A terminally-ill pensioner in the Western Isles Hospital in Stornoway has seen her son in New York for the first time in 14 years via a webcam. Joan Wallace, 65, who is suffering from cancer, told the hospital chaplain Calum Russell she wanted to see and speak to her son while she was still able to.
Hearing her say that she believed it was unlikely she could ever see her son again, Calum thought he could call on technology to help out. The Hospital IT department came to the rescue and the web link was set up with New York.
Mrs Wallace was too ill to travel and her son, Russell Davis, who is a computer analyst, and has lived in New York since 1991 could not travel because of problems with paperwork. He has let his passport accidentally expire and feared that if he tried to travel to Scotland he could be detained
So the weblink was set up. Seeing his picture on the computer, like many a mother, Mrs Wallace told her son off for not cutting his hair! Mrs Wallace, her daughter Sally Ann and her husband, Stuart, who is step-father to Russell, then chatted in private over the internet link for 30 minutes.
Following their conversation, Mrs Wallace said: "How wonderful modern technology is. To see my son after so long was good. Though I couln't touch him, I could see him. It meant a lot."
For those (like the editor) who do not know about Kwanzaa………..
Kwanzaa (Quansa) is a holiday celebrated by many African-Americans. It is held from 26th December to 1st January. It was started in 1966 by Doctor Maulana Karenga, Professor at the California State University, Long Beach, California.
The Secretary of SACH is :
Marie Curie Hospice, Glasgow
1 Belmont Road
Telephone: 0141 531 1346
You can find this (and previous) editions of SACH Soundings in full colour
on the SACH Website:
If you would like to receive the colour version of SACH Soundings by E-mail in Acrobat PDF Format, send your E-mail address to: Fred.Coutts@sach.org.uk
Send news, articles, pictures, stories and ideas s soon as possible to:
Rev Fred Coutts
Aberdeen Royal Infirmary
Tel: 01224 553166