Did you know that every patient, relative and staff member, irrespective of their faith, belief, culture or nationality can receive support from our Chaplaincy Team during their visit to our hospitals? Communications Assistant, Katie T, met Anglican Chaplain, Rev Mike Jones to see first-hand how the work of our Chaplains benefit patients and their families.
Mike is one of Peterborough City Hospital’s chaplains and was kind enough to let me accompany him on a couple of his rounds. We begin with an explanation of how they work.
“There is a card file of all the patients who have either requested or been identified as needing extra support during their stay at the hospital,” Mike tells me. “Some patients go back as far as 2015, when this method of recording patients began, but most of the cards are destroyed after a year.”
Patients range from early 40s through to a patient of 96 and the list never gets shorter. Unfortunately the chaplains can’t visit them all each day, but they aim to reach them at least once a week; however if a patient is reaching end of life, they are seen every day. People without family nearby or with additional needs are also prioritised.
“We believe that every person can begin to find strength, comfort, hope and meaning within their experience of life, death, illness, injury or circumstances, whatever their beliefs may be,” says Mike.
Referrals come from all over the hospital, from catering staff to palliative care and physios, or occupational health. Anyone and everyone can refer a patient if they feel they need a little support, and this includes relatives and local parishioners,
First stop on our round is the Emergency Department, where Mike wanders through making a quick judgement whether to enter cubicles to speak to a patient or leave them be. Some people are in far too much pain or discomfort to hold a conversation but others are either alone or needing a reassuring presence. As we make our way around the department, it is clear that staff are happy to see him as they update him on situations and recommending people that he might like to see. But it was a fairly swift passage through ED that day, and children’s ED was thankfully quiet as well.
Our next stop was the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit where we meet with the Sister in charge to find out who is in today and whether they are any updates on the babies and families that Mike already knows. There are three sets of twins on the ward, which I am told is unusual, one of whom had only entered the world the day before. Mike is fantastic at starting conversations with families and finding out, not only how baby is faring, but the extended family as well. As we meet with each family, I notice how helpful they find his presence – like it makes them feel more at home in the hospital environment. Finding the balance of knowing when to intrude into their spaces to talk and when to retreat and leave them to their own thoughts is quite a skill.
It is fascinating talking to the staff in the department, who are passionate, caring and skilled. The environment is dark and quiet, restful for these tiny little humans and their families. The technology in the last few years has come on so far that I can’t help but be fascinated by it all. All the parents are so confident in the help they are getting, and grateful to all the staff. There is a young mother, with a young child of about 1 and her own mother, the grandmother, there helping. We find out that the first child was also in the unit at birth, so this mother is quite used to being in the ward!
Personally, I could have stood and stared at those little miracles and wondered at the staff working in there so diligently all day!
Mike’s rounds also include a staff check too – “Never underestimate how many staff members need extra support, having someone to talk to or check in with them is very important. So I will pop in to staff areas to say hello and catch up on what is going on - essentially doing a welfare check.”