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Chaplain gives dignity and respect to terminally ill patients

Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital
Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital’s new chaplain provides spiritual and emotional support to terminally ill patients.

Father Keith Foote joins the RBWH chaplaincy department and palliative care unit as a volunteer non-denominational chaplain to support patients in their journey towards their final days.

Fr Foote said listening to people who know they are terminal was one of the greatest gifts.

“Being invited into a person’s story is a privilege and demands infinite respect and dignity,” he said.

“Talking about death gives patients the opportunity to reflect on their uniqueness, their giftedness, their achievements and their contribution to family, friends and community.

“Most patients, even those who are not religious find speaking about their life and fears a great comfort,and helps in the search for meaning,” Fr Foote said.

“I like to see myself as a companion, someone who is there to listen and provide support regardless of a patient’s beliefs or culture.”

RBWH head chaplain, Reverend Iris Carden said palliative care patients experienced a variety of complex and difficult emotions, and Father Foote has the experience and knowledge to best guide these patients.

Rev Carden said RBWH had 35 chaplains who were available in 12 different faith groups, and who visited patients at their request.

“We have full time chaplains in Anglican, Catholic and Uniting Churches and part-time chaplains from Baptist Church, Churches of Christ, Islam, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Lutheran Church, Presbyterian Church, Salvation Army and Seventh-day Adventist Church,” she said.

“The chaplaincy department can usually locate a representative from any faith group in the community to meet with patients.

“During Chaplaincy Awareness Week (October 1-7) we hope to raise the profile of the chaplains and the service we provide to both patients and staff.”

Photo : Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital