Parish Clergy Visiting
Patients welcome and value visits from their home clergy, and hospitals recognise the importance of this in their spiritual care. It is, however, generally recognised that the hospital chaplain should be consulted before sacraments are administered in the hospital.
Chaplains are always happy to take referrals from parishes will make a special point of visiting individuals whose names have been given to them by parish clergy. This knowledge helps the patient to continue to feel in touch with his or her local worshipping community. As in the parish system, hospital clergy are sometimes expected to know of every situation, but often it does need someone to tell us!
Volunteers and chaplaincy pastoral workers
Many hospital chaplaincy departments benefit from the support of lay volunteers. They may help in a number of ways. For example, after training, some act as pastoral visitors on the wards and others help to bring patients down to services in the chapel. Chaplains welcome the links made with local parishes.
In some chaplaincy departments the pastoral visitors have completed the Bishops Course in Pastoral Ministry and find their work in hospitals a useful outlet for the skills gained.
Most hospitals have a Voluntary Services Department (this is not linked to chaplaincy) offering a wide variety of jobs to people who would like to help. Parishioners who are interested in giving some free time to this should get in touch with the Voluntary Services Officer at their local hospital or speak to the hospital chaplain for more details.
Patient confidentiality has a high priority in the health service and all chaplains employed by the NHS have to abide by the internal regulations. Clergy will be aware that information about a patient may not be passed on to parishes by chaplains without the patient's permission, but it should also be noted that the very fact of a person being in hospital is also a matter of strict confidentiality. Of course, chaplains will do their best to refer patients and keep parish clergy informed but a patient must give consent before they can do this.
The Data Protection Act can make it difficult for chaplains to know of the presence of patients of their particular church or denomination (for more details see the Hospital Chaplaincies Website below). This particular situation makes referrals from parish clergy particularly important.
Some Useful Links
Hospital Chaplaincy Gateway
NHS Hospital Chaplaincies Council
Scottish Association of Chaplains in Healthcare
Commission for Health Improvement
Mailing Forum on Chaplaincy Matters