What do we mean by pastoral care in healthcare?
- Acute hospitals: a hospital trust, also known as an acute trust, is an NHS trust that provides secondary health services.
- Mental health hospitals: hospitals or wards specialising in the treatment of serious mental illness, such as clinical depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder.
- Hospices: designed to give supportive care to people in the final phase of a terminal illness with a focus on comfort and quality of life rather than cure. The goal is to enable patients to be comfortable and free of pain so that they live each day as fully as possible.
- Community: healthcare in the community away from the institution. NHS services are increasingly moving to a community-based model and we expect healthcare chaplaincy to do the same.
Where do non-religious pastoral carers fit into the chaplaincy team and approach?All healthcare chaplains will work generically, meaning that they will visit people regardless of their religion or belief. Non-religious pastoral carers are no different in that sense. Where we do differ is in being able to offer like-minded support to other non-religious people if they want to speak with someone who shares their worldview. Whilst our carers do not provide religious care, they are able to provide humanistic care to support people with the ‘spiritual’ aspects of their humanity. Non-religious people are still faced with the same existential questions around meaning and purpose; they have values, morality, love, hopes, dreams, and so on in the same way as religious people, and similarly wish to explore these, particularly at key life transition points.We believe it is imperative that healthcare chaplaincy teams are responsive to patient needs and reflect the diversity of our modern society. We also believe that both paid and volunteer providers should be highly trained. This means that patients, families and staff will be able to receive appropriate and quality care.
Humanist Lives, with Alice Roberts
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