Coronavirus (COVID-19): hospital visiting guidance

Enabling family support for people in hospital in Scotland.

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Spiritual care

The Spiritual Care Service in each health board area exists for the delivery of safe and effective, person-centred spiritual care to all patients, family/carers and members of staff.

When particular spiritual care needs are identified that are associated with a patient’s faith/belief community, the Spiritual Care Team should be informed. This will usually involve the Healthcare Chaplain responsible for the patient’s ward, or, in an emergency, the Healthcare Chaplain on call.

After full consultation with the patient, the Chaplain will either address the need arising, or, and at the patient’s request, engage with the patient’s own faith/belief community.

If the patient needs to be supported by a representative from the patient’s own faith/belief community, the Spiritual Care Team should arrange for this to happen.

Pastoral support is part of the person-centred spiritual care being given to the patient while in hospital. Therefore, a faith representative should not be classed as a patient’s designated visitor.

In some health board areas, requests for spiritual care from a specific faith/belief community are so common that separate arrangements have already been made for contacting and accessing support from that community, so that the board’s own Spiritual Care Team is not involved in the continual delegating of this aspect of their work. Where such arrangements are in place (and have, perhaps, been suspended during lockdown) such faith/belief community support can now be accessed as previously, according to local protocols.

When a patient’s faith/belief community representative is supporting that patient, the ward’s standard infection control measures should be observed. A faith/belief community representative may only support a number of patients in the hospital if it is safe to do so and standard infection control measures are observed at every stage.

Physical distancing should still be observed and physical touch restricted to that which is absolutely necessary for spiritual care, observing strict hand hygiene protocols while doing so.

Where spiritual care involves the sharing of objects (e.g. printed material, food and drink associated with rites, anointing oils) the same procedures should be in place as in local faith/belief community gatherings, to ensure effective infection control.


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