By: Hope Golden
Chaplains are leaders in the spiritual ministry of patients in palliative care (PC) and hospice (HO). They are professionally trained clergy who recognize the spiritual needs of individuals facing the impact of a terminal illness. When patients and families are facing a life-limiting diagnosis, the prognosis can be intimidating and confusing.
During the last stages of life, spiritual issues can most assuredly rise to the top of the care list. It shows up in behavior like anger, anxiety, grief, and combativeness, as well as joy and acceptance. Each affected person will deal with reality differently. As each person reflects, a myriad of concerns can arise, needing the attention of a spiritual leader.
Palliative care and hospice chaplains are different from pastors and priests in that their single primary goal is to journey with a patient spiritually as they deal with a specific diagnosis. Hospice chaplains walk with patients and their impacted community of loved ones, and the caring staff members, all traveling and facing the trajectory of a patient’s life-limiting illness. The chaplains aim to bring comfort throughout the journey until the patient recovers in PC, or until the HO patient’s transition is complete.
Palliative care and hospice chaplains are members of an interdisciplinary team (IDT) that most often includes a Medical Director, Registered Nurse, Certified Nursing Assistant, and Social Worker. The team works together with other administrative staff, volunteers, and caregivers to promote excellent care for the whole person, mind, body, and soul. Chaplains specialize in listening, especially for the right place for a thoughtful comment or question that moves the traveler closer to peace.
People commit to spirituality through many means, chaplains help patients recall what brings them peace. Are they members of any religious group? What are their personal beliefs, dreams and aspirations, rituals, family rites, and community experiences? Any of these might impact their thoughts or wishes at this time in their lives.
Spiritual healing can include referrals to more appropriate religious caregivers. The patient may find hope in someone listening, playing music, playing cards, saying prayers, reading a devotion, a story, or performing a ritual ceremony, or life review. Patients may desire to deal with hurts, habits, and hang-ups that are causing distress. The type of support a patient may need is tailored reasonably to each individual.
Chaplains are privileged to be part of some of the most precious moments in the lives of people. They, along with the whole team of caring people, provide an opportunity for the most pleasant and peaceful recovery during palliative care or transition on hospice.
If you would like more information on hospice or palliative care please contact us at 303-957-3101 or 970-776-8080, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org