No 30 June 2007
I read an article the other day about the Swedish naturalist, Linnaeus, who invented the system for classifying the natural world. I know it's not politically correct but I did wonder if the same could be done for people. I'm sure you are way ahead of me now. There would be an endless number of classifications for the human race but I'm only going to look at one, Chaplains. You may want to read this with the voice of David Attenborough in your head.
Homo chaplensis is a shy, retiring creature which can often be found around hospital beds. Their timidity means that they can be often overlooked and they tend to take fright at the appearance of anyone in a white coat.
They are a species of great variety; some are easy to spot, all in black with a white patch at the throat, while others have very cleverly camouflaged themselves, chameleon like, as homo managerensis minor , but they can be easily distinguished by their pattern of speech which uses words like hope, forgiveness and love.
They may be confused with homo pastoralia a migrant visitor, but most of the species chaplensis have been tagged with a small piece of plastic, or security card, ensuring they do not mix with other populations.
How would you classify chaplains? It's impossible to generalise and it's a dangerous game anyway. The truth is that very often we are labelled and classified by others. How many times have we visited a patient who, upon seeing our smiling visage says, “Am I that bad?”
Maybe the time is ripe for us to re-classify, dare I say re-brand, ourselves, in a style of our choosing which highlights the value that we bring in our role to the healthcare system in a myriad ways. We know the good work that we do, and we can also learn from the mistakes that we make, but the thing is we don't tell people about it much. Let's stop being overly modest, hiding lights under bushels, and dare to tell others what we do. How about writing something for Soundings , or your Health Board's newsletter, or perhaps an article for the Journal. Or consider taking up the offer of the course about confidence in research methods. It really does what it says on the tin. Above all else, let's knock on doors in our hospitals, large and small, and sell our wares. Most people are eager and willing to hear what we have to say and only too glad to use us as a resource.
Some time ago we promised you that these would be on their way so that you can keep all your CPD stuff in one place. It will be increasingly important to do this even where you are doing one session a week so anything that helps make this process easier is to be welcomed.
It seems, however, that the folders for SACH members have not yet been sent out and it is our hope that this will be done very soon. Watch this space.
It's with great pleasure that I can announce that Dawn Allan, secretary to SACH, is getting married in September and will be leaving Glasgow for Cumbria. I would like to take this opportunity to wish Dawn and Tim every blessing for the future and to thank her for all her sterling work as secretary for the past two years. We're going to miss you Dawn!
Derek Brown President of SACH
The "Multi Faith Resource for Healthcare Staff" is finally out and distributed. After several months of delay we are pleased to have this done. So far the comments back are generally appreciative but as we keep being asked for more copies I wonder if the distribution is complete. Thanks to those who have helped in this and I hope it will be a useful document. We are also being asked for copies of the "Standards for NHSScotland Chaplaincy Services" and are planning to have more of the booklets printed.
The research methods course run by Harriet Mowatt produced some very interesting research proposals and we have managed to secure some funding to help them on their way. Hopefully we may be able to give someone the time and necessary supervision to work with the "fledgling" researchers. There is also the possibility of having more help in their area of competences/capabilities work and in moving towards a qualification in chaplaincy - more about that some other time.
Data Protection remains a difficult area for chaplains but recent meetings with sympathetic lawyers has given me some hope that Boards may receive advice which is helpful to the cause. Watch this space, but continue breathing meanwhile.
A recent meeting of the UK Chaplaincies Committee was held in Liverpool, hosted by the Roman Catholic Archbishop Tom Williams. It was a frank meeting which showed that the different understandings of chaplaincy are all around the UK. However it was good to share the opinions of Anglican, Romans Catholic, Free Churches, Northern Ireland churches and the Church in Scotland. I'm not sure that we achieved a great deal but it is a discussion which has to take place and in Scotland also. The recent forming of a working group to begin revising the guidance on spiritual care in NHS Scotland makes it rather urgent.
One major change which will soon become apparent is that the web site for chaplaincy/spiritual care is now moved into NHS Education for Scotland. This was one of the issues when I became part of NES and was told that the policy was not to have external websites for the professional groups but to have a pattern and a home into which they would all be brought. If you try to get into the chaplaincy web site at www.chaplains.co.uk you will be forwarded to the new address which is www.nes.scot.nhs.uk/spiritualcare/ In conforming to the NES pattern you will see it has a new shape. I am sure you will find your way around and hope you find it OK. Anne Richardson and I will be responsible for it, mostly Anne thank goodness!, so please be understanding as we get it up to speed.
It is difficult to know how to thank Fred Coutts for all the work he has put in to the website over the years - it has been widely admired and well used by a great many people. A cup of coffee seems so inadequate - but it's a start. Thanks Fred and I'm sure the whole chaplaincy community would join with me in this.
Chaplain Wanted at Marie Curie Hospice, Glasgow
(Closing Date 6 July 2007)
Tuesday 30 October 2007
(Venue to be confirmed)
Vol 10:1 of the Scottish Journal of Healthcare Chaplaincy is now ready for circulation. It contains the first set of papers from the 10th Edition Conference held earlier this year in Crieff. The response to this conference has been hugely positive and there has been keen anticipation of the publication of the conference papers.
The Editors would like to encourage contributions for the Journal. This can be done in a number of ways.
First of all, you have an article within you! Write about some aspect of your chaplaincy or about some piece of research you are involved in. We would love to hear from you.
Second, you may know of someone in your various areas of work who might write for the journal. Please let us know about this. You may contact them yourself to suggest the idea or let us contact them for you.
Third, you may have attended a conference lately or heard a speaker and thought that the content would be good for publication. Again, please let us know about this or draw the individual's attention to the existence of the SJHC.
The Editors can be contacted on-line at firstname.lastname@example.org . We look forward to hearing from you.
Rev Tom Gordon, the chaplain at the Edinburgh Marie Curie Hospice will take over as President of the Association of Hospice and Palliative Care Chaplains (AHPCC) in the UK from the beginning of July.
Brief Report by the Secretary from the last Executive Meeting
At the last SACH Executive meeting held on 14 May 2007, there was general discussion regarding a meeting in April between SACH, CHCC and Amicus. This was the latest in a series of exploratory discussions which stemmed from issues raised at last year's AGM regarding the impending change in employment status and representation. The question needing addressed is how SACH can best meet the needs of its members given the changes that are happening. The Executive looked at three options: a) retaining the status quo b) integration with the CHCC c) association with Amicus. There are various implications, both negative and positive regarding each of these options.
There are several points still to be resolved before the Executive can recommend a course of action. There is the present independence and autonomy of SACH, the benefits of trade union membership, the importance of the Journal. The Executive agreed that it had not got all the information it needed to take a final decision and will consider this again at its next meeting in August.
There were brief reports from the Spiritual Care Development Committee and from the National Professional Committee of CHCC where Margery Collin attended as an observer.
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While we, as Spiritual Care Providers working within NHS Scotland, are confident that the work we do is of great benefit to all concerned, we are also aware of the need to be able to demonstrate that fact.
There are a growing number of ways in which our work is monitored and assessed by others. Some of these, our line managers for instance, may be well aware of the need for our services. Others, including some financial managers and others in positions of authority, may be less convinced. The situation that arose in Worcestershire when they closed down most of the Chaplaincy service could happen elsewhere as NHS boards struggle to make ends meet.
One way of ensuring that others are able to recognise the value of Spiritual Care services is to develop research projects that will clearly demonstrate the efficacy of Spiritual Care in the Healthcare Setting. Some work has already been done around this subject.
I understand that investigations have been done on the rate of patient recovery with or without spiritual care in controlled conditions, with some indication that an increase in the sense of ‘well-being' promotes a positive attitude that generates a ‘can do' approach to recovery. Other research looked at the healing of operation wounds and found an increase in the growth of new cells when the patient was not stressed by factors, which included their spiritual state of mind.
One published study on Faith and Healing by Gundersen (1) makes the telling point that ‘all interventions should be supported by some evidence of benefit'. It would be helpful to all who work in Spiritual Care in NHS Scotland if the available research can be pulled together to present a clear picture of the way in which Spiritual Care has a positive influence on patient recovery rates. It may be that the research so far has not been conclusive and so further work may need to be done. Colleagues who are planning to begin their studies into Research Methods may wish to take this on board.
Can I ask that all those who have some information, copies of relevant research and useful quotations please pool our resources, so that we can all have access to it. I am happy to act as a ‘clearing house' and, once the flow reduces to a trickle, to distribute a CD-ROM with all that I have accumulated.
Those who hold the purse strings will be encouraged to continue to invest in Spiritual Care if they are shown clearly how cost effective it can be. Equally, they may feel that there is no need to do so if they are not presented with evidence to demonstrate that it works.
Chaplain at Golden Jubilee Hospital, Clydebank and NHS 24
1. Gundersen L, Faith and Healing, Annals of Internal Medicine
18 January 2000 | Volume 132 Issue 2 | Pages 169-172
Rev Iain Telfer (Chaplain at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh) will take over as Secretary of SACH from
20 August 2007. Contact him at email@example.com
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