Pastoral Care in the Hospice Setting
Rev. Cesar, D.Min, EdD
Spiritual care is an intrinsic part of hospice service especially in the US where many patients rely on religion and spirituality to cope with their diagnosis and its implications. Spiritual care is even desirable when the patient and/or the family members subscribe to a particular faith or spiritual belief. In order to provide this service, chaplains or spiritual counselors are included in the hospice interdisciplinary team where they give their unique perspective on the spiritual state of the patient. Such information can be helpful for the other members of the team as they address the needs of the patient.
Clinical studies have shown that spiritual care near a patient’s end of life can contribute to the patient’s well-being resulting in the acceptance of his or her terminal condition and an increased trust with the care providers and the care process. With the consent of the patient or the patient’s family/power of attorney, the chaplain ministers to the patient by honoring and nurturing the patient’s spiritual needs which are done through rites, rituals, sacraments, scriptures and similar interventions that are meaningful to the patient. If the chaplain is not an ordained or commissioned clergy, he or she can connect the patient with the patient’s own clergy and congregation so that provisions for the patient’s spiritual care can be given.
At HOPE Hospice, the chaplains are part of the Interdisciplinary Team that meets on a regular basis to discuss the care of the patient. Our Pastoral Care Team is composed of Christian clergy and a Buddist volunteer clergy. Independent of their sectarian affiliation, our chaplains minister to the needs of the patient in ways that honor our patients values and belief system.