Spiritual Care and Chaplaincy

Guidance on Spiritual Care inthe NHS in Scotland

3. Standards for Chaplaincy Services

The "Standards for NHSScotland Chaplaincy Services" document was produced by a working group and, following consultation, has been ratified by the three professional chaplaincy organisations; the Scottish Association of Chaplains in Healthcare ( SACH), the College of Healthcare Chaplains ( CHCC Scotland Branch) and the Association of Hospice and Palliative Care Chaplains ( AHPCC Scottish Branch).

These standards describe the seven main areas in which a spiritual care service is expected to operate. The document includes a rationale, a set of criteria by which it could be described and a series of self assessment questions by which an audit of the service can be undertaken. They have been well received by boards and chaplaincy managers.

The areas are as follows:

Spiritual and Religious Care Needs: describing the task of the service as identifying and responding to those who have such needs. There has to be understanding by staff of spiritual and religious need, their similarity and difference. Assessment may require to be taught and good referral systems put in place.

Access to Chaplaincy Services: by which all patients, carers and staff have access to the service. This requires good written material with verbal back up and a clear way of checking that the appropriate information is given at the right time and with adequate explanation concerning the nature of the service. This will involve not only the admission procedure but during the patient pathway and an out of hours "on call" service.

Partnership with Faith Communities and Belief Groups: describing how chaplaincy services should work in partnership with faith community and belief groups to ensure the appropriate provision of religious and spiritual care for patients and their carers. Many patients appreciate visits by their own faith/belief group representatives and the service is expected to facilitate this when asked and when appropriate. An up-to-date and comprehensive contact list must be available. The service should also have easily accessed information to hand to help staff understand the particular needs they may encounter of those from faith and belief communities of many kinds. (e.g. Multi Faith Resource for Healthcare Staff).

Support for Staff: the chaplaincy service is expected to offer personal and professional support to staff and volunteers as part of its provision. Good relationships require fostering so that those who are undergoing stress or difficulty will be able to make use of such pastoral care which is confidential, empathetic and helpful.

Education Training and Research: the chaplaincy service is committed to supporting the continuing professional development of chaplains, and contributes to the healthcare team's professional education, training and research programmes. Those within the specialist chaplaincy team have responsibility for their own development, for the developing evidence base of the profession and for offering opportunities to other healthcare staff to develop their understanding and skill as spiritual care providers.

Resources: the health service unit or board in which the service is housed has responsibility to ensure that adequate resources are provided for proper service delivery. Such resources include quiet spaces for counselling and worship, adequate opportunity for initial and on going training, administrative support and access to professional associations, faith community/belief group of choice and supportive supervision. There must be appropriate and adequate chaplaincy provision in keeping with the needs of patients, their carers and staff, including a 24/7 service.

Involvement in major Incident and significant events: chaplaincy services have a significant contribution to make at times of major event, incident or disruption within the health service. This could be a national event, a disaster or the death of a member of staff. Coping with major change such as hospital closure, dealing with numbers of relatives or a communal need, are all times where the chaplaincy service may play a valuable and valued role.

A Self Assessment Tool has been provided along with the Chaplaincy Services Standards Document. This tool enables the service to be audited so that priorities can be set and the strengths and challenges of a particular service seen and addressed. Appropriate questions are listed alongside each standard and answers, evidence and comments are asked for.

Health Boards are strongly advised to make use of this service standards document as a means of auditing and developing their spiritual care service.

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