Spiritual Care and Chaplaincy

Guidance on Spiritual Care inthe NHS in Scotland

8. Relationship with UK, European and other Chaplaincy Organisations

Throughout the past 15 years there has been regular contact between chaplains/spiritual care providers throughout the UK and Europe. The Scottish Churches' Committee on Healthcare Chaplaincy, established in 1994, acts on behalf of the member churches of Action of Churches Together in Scotland ( ACTS) and is responsible for monitoring and promoting the provision of healthcare chaplaincy in statutory, voluntary and private contexts. The Churches' Committee for Hospital Chaplaincy is a co-ordinating group of Churches Together in England with responsibility for representing the churches on matters of hospital chaplaincy to the Department of Health. In 1997 this committee initiated the formation of the Multi-Faith group for healthcare Chaplaincy. The Training officers and Church representatives of England, Scotland and Ireland maintain contact and hold occasional meetings where progress and issues are exchanged. There are some variations in the practice of spiritual care and in training and support given. In Scotland we concentrate more on spiritual care which is a provision of the NHS and is for all, regardless of culture, faith belief or background. Elsewhere the denominational aspects are stronger and there is less commitment to those with no declared faith. In practice most chaplains, wherever they are, work to some extent in a generic way responding to the needs of any. In Scotland this approach is included in policy documents in a very explicit way.

The European Network of Healthcare Chaplains has developed from very small beginnings in 1992. The network holds a conference every two years and Scotland has played an important part in these proceedings. The network includes chaplains from Finland to Italy and from Iceland to the Ukraine. The practices vary considerably due to cultural and historical factors yet there is enough in common to make such gatherings meaningful and very worthwhile. Contact has been made with EU departments for whom such cooperation across the continent is seen as significant.

North American chaplaincy shares certain characteristics as well as differences with the Scottish model. A few have received part of their training in the USA or Canada and vice versa. A delegation visited a Canadian conference in 2004 to learn and share methods of training in particular Clinical Pastoral Education. ( CPE) This has borne fruit and encouraged work with Glasgow Caledonian University in establishing and accrediting CPE Units for practising chaplains, healthcare workers and others involved in pastoral care.

Back to top