Soundings is the quarterly newsletter of Scottish Association of Chaplains in Healthcare.
SACH is a professional body representing the interests of chaplains in healthcare.
No 45 March 2011
I would like to start by thanking our President, Derek Brown, and Margery Collins, our Secretary, for all they have done to promote the best interests of Chaplaincy in Scotland. I have especially appreciated their mentorship, which has prepared me to take up this new responsibility as President of SACH and wish them well as they retire from these posts.
And now to introduce your new executive team (contact details, etc, can be found on the website www.sach.org.uk/execut.htm). For those who may not know me, my name is Andrew Graham and I am the lead chaplain in the National Waiting Times Centre Health Board, based in the Golden Jubilee Hospital, Clydebank. I have been here since 2006, having previously worked as a Chaplain in Ayrshire. Earlier experience has included working within social care, firstly as a Support Worker, then as Manager of a Day Centre and later of a Residential Home and community based project for adults who have a learning disability or autism. I was ordained in 1985 and have been minister of parishes in Scotland, England and Wales as well as serving for seven years with a missionary organisation in Honduras, Central America, where the work involved the running of a residential facility and school for 150 ‘street kids’, copastoring a village church and teaching church leaders in rural areas of the country. I enjoy going for holidays in our touring caravan with my wife Sheila, exploring new places and visiting family and friends around the UK. Other hobbies include reading, crosswords, gardening and DIY, with a daily dose of Countdown thanks to 4oD.
Anne Mulligan, our new Secretary, works within Lothian Health Board and Allan Grant, who is based in NHS Fife has taken over as Treasurer, while Sarah Lawson is taking on the role of Membership Secretary.
Most of you will know that Fred Coutts, who has so ably kept us going through the Website and Soundings, is due to retire this year. He is handing over the reins to our new Communications Officer, Paul Graham, who has an extensive background in IT and is Spiritual Care Advisor to St Vincent’s Hospice, Renfrewshire.
The other two members of our Executive Committee are Jim Simpson, who works in Grampian Health Board and Anne MacDonald who is based in Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board. Together , we look forward to representing the interests of Chaplains throughout Scotland and beyond. Andrew Graham President of SACH.
President of SACH
The Committee gathered in the recently opened Forth Valley Royal Hospital for our initial meeting on Friday 25th February. We were able to admire their new Spiritual Care Centre and sample some excellent food in the restaurant – thanks Margery for making us so welcome.
We discussed the following items:
1. Recruitment and retention premium : the NHS Staff Council is looking to remove this as a result of a recent Tribunal case. Needs to be monitored.
2. Reflections on Life : a resource edited by Geoff Lachlan. With beautiful illustrations and readings on various themes, it will be a valuable addition to Chaplains across Scotland.
3. Communications : a special thanks to Fred Coutts for his great work on SACH communications. The recent survey provided positive feedback and ideas for future developments.
4. Membership and Finance : benefits need to be highlighted.
5. UKBHC : a recent Government Paper ‘Enabling Excellence’ is looking to bring voluntary registration schemes under the oversight of the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence.
6. Pastoral Care : SACH are looking at providing some funds to support reflective practice retreats as outlined by Ewan Kelly at the AGM.
7. Training New Chaplains : NES can no longer fund a two-day Conference for those new to Chaplaincy. It is hoped that SACH can setup an event led by experienced Chaplains.
Detailed notes will be available on the website (www.sach.org.uk).
If you would like to receive SACH Soundings by e-mail, send your e-mail address to: email@example.com I hung up my Presidential trappings at the AGM in Carberry last month after more than eight years in office. So I thought I’d read my previous articles and see what has been going on over that time. My first contribution was in December ‘02 and the news was all about the HDL and the impact it might have on healthcare chaplaincy. There’s no doubt that it changed the face of our profession markedly and for the better. I wrote then, ‘The future is as ever, indeterminable, but we do have it within our power to be part of shaping the future of health care chaplaincy in Scotland and beyond. As we shape and mould, discuss and design the services that we provide I’d like to think that we won’t lose sight of what it’s all about- the patient in the bed with their myriad needs, hopes and fears.’
Registration has been a recurring theme too. While various factors have meant that we haven’t got there yet, the establishment of the UKBHC was a significant milestone and I was very pleased to be involved in its establishment in 2008.
One highlight was the visit of the Irish President, Mary McAlese to the European Network of Healthcare Chaplains’ 8th consultation in Dublin in 2004, showing me that there are people who really do understand what we are about. She said, ‘The existential and spiritual dimension of suffering, illness and death is as real as the physical pain. It creates a very testing and challenging set of needs and you are the people who have responded to that challenge.’ We need to keep those words to hand as we look to the future. Finally, I’d like to say a big thank you for your support and good counsel over the years, and I know that the new Executive, with Andrew at the helm, will continue to serve us well.
Here are four of the many significant developments that have happened recently within our chaplaincy community -
- Agreement of a single method of reflective practice across NHSScotland for healthcare chaplains
- Development of a Post-Graduate Certificate in Healthcare Chaplaincy
- Development of Community Chaplaincy Listening Services in Primary Care
- Consensus formation of a statement describing Healthcare Chaplain’s Unique role in NHSScotland.
Each one has required a lot of hard work, creativity and collaboration on your part and that of many others. These activities play their part in establishing healthcare chaplaincy as an increasingly distinguishable, credible, confident and educated profession working within multi-disciplinary teams in Scottish healthcare.
Why do I single out these four developments? Well, two recent events or encounters made me especially reflect on the significance of these.
Firstly, I met with John Gilles, a GP in the Borders who is the new president of the Royal College of General Practitioners, and Stewart Mercer, the Professor of Primary Care Research at the University of Glasgow, to talk about the Community Chaplaincy Listening Project and its development. The first thing John asked me was how are chaplains educated and trained. On telling him about the new entry requirement for chaplains to our profession (completion of the Post-Graduate Certificate at the University of Glasgow) and the rolling out of our single methodology of ongoing, intentional and rigorous reflective practice, he tangibly became more open and willing to engage. He is genuinely interested in hearing how the conference goes on March 30th in Perth at which research data gathered from initial activity in the Community Chaplaincy Listening Pilots will be shared. Several GPs will be participating in this event.
Secondly, like you all I am also involved in CPD and reflective practice – got to walk the walk as well as talk the talk! I am fortunate to be currently part of a leadership programme called ‘Delivering the Future’ funded by the Scottish Government. As part of this I meet regularly with an action learning set made up of clinical medical directors, associate nursing directors and leads of national workstreams in NHSScotland. Needless to say it is challenging but also hugely enjoyable. After our most recent action learning set, two of my colleagues were chatting to me at the bar. ‘You are different’ they said ‘you bring something different to our group. We’re glad you’re in our group – none of the other three groups are getting you.’
We, you and I, are different. As chaplains we bring something different and unique to the healthcare table. Yes, it’s difficult to articulate what this is, as we all found at Carberry! However, our unique and different perspective is appreciated, even if it challenges, perplexes and even makes others feel uncomfortable at times. Articulating our unique role, complex though that may be, is hugely worthwhile and helps others understand what we are about (the results of our efforts at Carberry can be found in the most recent edition of the Reflective Practitioner).
Let’s celebrate our uniqueness, be confident about it and share it with the rest of the multi-disciplinary team and NHSScotland. We have much to offer and much to influence. It is an exciting journey we are on and on our travels we make a huge difference to the wellbeing of individuals, families, communities and NHSScotland.
‘The un-reflected life is not worth living’ Socrates
‘We had the experience but missed the meaning’ TS Eliot
‘Reflective practice puts us back in touch firstly with the wisdom we once had before it got buried under the clutter of busyness and secondly before we were seduced into believing we had nothing left to learn’ Hospital Chaplain
- To take stock of the knowledge, skills and behaviour needed to be able to provide high quality spiritual care.
- to ensure that what we actually do is congruent with what we intended to do
- to learn from experience and let patients, colleagues, situations be our teachers
- Since the well being of patients depends on every member of the care team playing their part, chaplains reflective practice helps chaplains remain self-aware, self-directing and in touch with their environment.
What to reflect on?
- Patient encounters, opportunistic encounters (corridors, car parks, canteen)
- Impact of work on self
- Things done, left undone, never even thought of doing
- Interaction with other members of the chaplaincy and hospital team
- Chaplaincy to the hospital/ healthcare setting as an organisation
How to Reflect? (a proposed model)
Given the vagaries of personality, temperament, learning style etc there is no one size fits all approach.
Borton’s 3 stage reflective cycle
What? What actually happened?
I found Staff Nurse K visibly upset in canteen. Sat and listened. Conversation cut short due to her need to return to ward. Gave her my card. Offered to meet again in more private setting.
So What? Turning it over in my mind, what do I make of what happened?
Although I have seen K on the ward we have never spoken before. Was touched that she trusted me. Thats the second time I have found a nurse from HDU crying in the canteen this week. In both cases the unit manager was ‘the cause’. In an attempt to be empathic I sided with the nurse. On reflection this was unfair to Unit manager for whom I am also chaplain. Left wondering whether there is more to the story than interpersonal clashes. HDU is a stressful environment. Is there something about the kind of patients or their circumstance that makes things heavier than normal right now?
Now What? How can I convert my reflection into action?
I could visit the Unit and gauge what’s what for myself? I could try and find a way to come alongside the Unit manager without her realising I was up to anything. Maybe she is under stress herself – when does she have a break, where does she have coffee, lunch? Is someone putting pressure on her? I could check with management (without disclosing anything) whether anything procedural or structural has changed in the Unit – eg staffing levels, service expectations, targets?
And so it continues...
The next edition of SACH Soundings will be published in June 2011.
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