Chaplains at North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust are continuing to provide vital emotional support for patients, the public and staff, despite the Covid-19 pandemic.
Before the pandemic the Chaplaincy team would visit wards, speak to patients and their families to listen, support and offer pastoral, spiritual and religious care, with regular services being held across the week.
The chapels at Peterborough City and Hinchingbrooke Hospitals would hold a variety of services across the week, such as, Sunday Morning Worship, Roman Catholic Mass and Muslim Jummah Prayers. The team also provided a non-judgemental and confidential ear to staff who needed to share work-related and/or personal concerns.
Now the team are finding new ways to continue to provide the crucial support that is needed; by email, phone calls, YouTube, Skype and limited visits to wards using the appropriate PPE.
Adapting to these new measures has come with some difficulties as PPE has impeded interaction with patients. Chaplains are now more aware of the need to slow themselves in conversation and focus on how clear their words are to help with communication. An example of this is communicating by phone with bereaved families which takes a great deal of careful listening, requiring thoughtful and appropriate words and the ability to allow for silence.
Chaplains also provide a listening ear and words of reassurance to families throughout a patient’s stay. The relationships they build are extremely valuable for relatives and they have been achieving this by sending hand-written cards, making phone calls and using technology to video call.This continuity of care in communication is invaluable to families who currently cannot visit their relative.
Anglican Chaplain at Hinchingbrooke Hospital, Rev Julia Chamberlin, who has sadly lost her own Father during the Covid-19 pandemic, said: “We have had to find new and innovative ways of providing support to all. Patients are not allowed visitors at the moment, except in exceptional circumstances, so we are trying to reduce the isolation and fear that they may have and be the link between the family and the patient. Staff also have worries too, so we are there for them in these challenging times. It is certainly a different way of working, but we are adapting and assisting where we can.”