James O’Callaghan looks at a new chaplaincy framework to be implemented within Queensland Health facilities which will open new doors for chaplains.
Our chaplains within Queensland Health facilities are in many respects the first and last spiritual care points of contact that many may have.
And so, with the current framework for Integration of Pastoral Careers and Chaplains in Queensland Health Facilities now 12-years-old, changes were required in order to support the integration of pastoral and spiritual care within Queensland Health facilities.
Rev Tanya Richards—Chaplain at the Sunshine Coast University Hospital and current Chair of the Queensland Multifaith Health Care Council—has been instrumental in facilitating a review process into the framework for the Integration of Spiritual Care in Queensland Health Facilities, alongside an ecumenical group and government stakeholders.
For Tanya the new framework is essential; “Like most things, the role of a chaplain within the Queensland Health setting has evolved over the time,” says Tanya.
“The current framework developed in 2008 is no longer recognised and acts more as a guideline that each individual hospital would determine how much they would implement. The goal of the new framework is to establish a consistent approach across Queensland Health facilities.”
Synod Chaplaincy Commission Executive Officer Rev Keren Seto notes two key challenges associated with the old framework.
“Firstly, there was not solid take-up across Queensland Health facilities,” says Keren. “Secondly, where it was taken up, circumstances and contexts have changed to a point where it is now out of date and no longer applicable.”
“We are hoping that there will be improved pick up of this framework within Queensland Health facilities, which will in turn support the integration of spiritual care within their facilities.”
Tanya hopes that the new framework will ensure that chaplains are recognised as professionals within the system.
“Chaplains have a lot to offer a patient from a spiritual care perspective and this framework will put us on an equal footing with other health professionals,” says Tanya.
“Incorporating chaplains into multi-disciplinary meetings and allowing them to provide guidance in relation to a patient’s spiritual needs and including notes from a chaplain in a patient’s chart are some of the ways that this framework will support a holistic understanding of health care. “
The framework is an ecumenical initiative with engagement through the Heads of Churches, where according to Tanya, the Uniting Church is playing a key role in the chaplaincy space.
“The Uniting Church provides a significant percentage of funded chaplains within Queensland Health facilities,” says Tanya. “This is something we should be incredibly proud of.”
The revised framework for Integration of Spiritual Care in Queensland Health Facilities will be launched during Spiritual Care Week. Many hospitals will be launching the new framework, including at the Sunshine Coast University Hospital with chaplains, staff and members of the Multifaith Council.