Hospice Chaplains are a rare breed of clergy, specially trained to work in the clinical setting, caring for the spiritual and emotional needs of hospice and palliative patients, and their families. Their role is so important that Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) requires all hospice organizations which receive federal reimbursements employ a Hospice Chaplain.
The role of a Hospice Chaplain is as much about being the voice of caring, as it is about being the ears that listen. Many times, at the end-of-life, individuals need to tell their life story, and wish for the special care and counsel that a Chaplain can provide. It is paramount that hospice provide this resource to patients and their caregivers, family, and the friends who love them – to help them find peace.
In the hospice and palliative care setting, the spirit and spirituality are not defined within the context of a specific religion and its doctrines, but instead as the awareness of one’s relationship with the world, humanity, and one’s overall sense of meaning and purpose. First and foremost, the Chaplain is dedicated to providing the patient with care and spiritual counsel that meets their needs, and is in accordance with the patient’s wishes. If a patient does not wish to engage with a Hospice Chaplain or any form of spiritual care, they do not have to. It is entirely optional and they can change their mind at any time.
“Hospice Chaplains are the guardians of comfort and spiritual strength for patients, families, and caregivers on the end-of-life journey,” says Kelly Rice, RN - Hot Springs Branch Office Executive Director, “not to mention the unwavering encouragement they also provide to our team members. Before each meeting and meal we share together, our Chaplain prays for staff in support of their caregiving efforts and safety. Additionally, in May each year, our Chaplain offers a special ‘blessing of the hands’ to all staff members in honor of their individual contributes to hospice and palliative care. This simple ceremony reinforces our team commitment to holistic care, and symbolically links our compassionate care to the science of practicing medicine.”