Monday, September 22, 2014

7 Winsome Personality Traits of Hospice Chaplains

7 Winsome Personality Traits of Hospice Chaplains I read in the Positive Attitude Café blog this tremendous description of a winsome personality: “Winsome personalities are the ones that definitely ‘win’ more. Unfortunately, we don’t hear this trait mention very often anymore. Yet, it is a refreshing word description of someone whose life exhibits tangible positive and energetic qualities. People want to be around these individuals. Don’t you? Absolutely!” The hospice Chaplain relies upon his/her personality to begin a healthy, pastoral relationship with both patients and their families/caregivers. There is nothing that takes the edge off of a new relationship than a smile, a kind work, something encouraging, perhaps a bit of appropriate humor, and the attitude of “I like being here with you.” To get you thinking about winsome personality traits, I will list them and provide a brief comment about each. 1. Integrity—Integrity frees up the Chaplain to have all of his mental/emotional faculties about her/him. No energy is drained trying to cover anything up like cheating on a mileage report or length of visit time or writing Clinical Notes for patients not seen. Integrity goes a long way to define the Chaplain. In a pastoral care relationship trust is THE key component. Everything else is built upon trust. 2. Responsibility—Pastors, be they parish pastors or hospice pastors, have a flock that needs care. The hospice Chaplain is responsible for providing that care. When I first started with hospice my assignment was a facility of all dementia patients. I was lost in attempting to provide care. I was in need of instruction. Responsibility lead me to discover new and successful ways to provide spiritual support. It is our responsibility to discover how to provide care for our patients. 3. Flexibility and adaptability are fundamental. One thing I have learned in hospice work is everything is set in jello. Change, as the wind upon the wave in the middle of a hurricane, is the norm in hospice care. The Chaplain has to be flexible and adaptable. This has everything to do with attitude. When it comes to change some bristle and complain. The winsome Chaplain accepts change as the norm and keeps her/his spirit sweet. 4. Compassion—Need this trait have any comment? 5. Courage—Advocating for a patient in an unfamiliar setting is a challenge that requires courage. For instance, I was visiting a patient in a hospital and noticed he was in pain. He had already spoken to the nurse stating he was in pain and was told his next dose of pain medicine was not until 2 hours. I excused myself from his room and spoke to his nurse to request that she look at his chart to see is he had a PRN medication for such a time as this. The orders were clearly written that he did have a PRN medication listed. She then got him the medication and thankfully his pain began to subside. Another example of the necessity of courage has to do with the Chaplain providing an ethical statement in an IDT meeting. I have done this on several occasions. While the hierarchy within the IDT is theoretically flat, there still is a pecking order of sorts. It takes courage for a Chaplain to give an ethical voice to a patient need. 6. Patience—The hospice Chaplain must exhibit patience. In any organization, there will be glitches in technology, problems of various sorts, and issues that defy quick resolution. In providing pastoral care, there will be those who question the use of medication, question what a Chaplain does, and question the benefit of Chaplains. In the world of ministry, there will be parish pastors who think the hospice Chaplain is less than in the value of ministry. This requires great patience. Patience keeps the circumstances calm. Patience keeps the spirit kind and sweet. 7. Conscientious—The hospice Chaplain exhibits a conscientious demeanor whenever a pastoral care visit takes place. The Chaplain exudes this through attentive and interactive listening, through body language, through gentle and insightful dialogue, to name but a few. The Chaplain exhibits conscientiousness by keeping all patient visits in compliance and by providing excellent documentation. The Chaplain recognizes that he/she is part of a Team effort and embraces the IDT with a sense of loyalty to all and to the mission of hospice. Those are 7 I believe are on the top of the list for a Chaplain to have as part of his/her life. Time and space prevents me from discussing these additional winsome traits: Dependable, Discreet, Fair, Observant, Optimistic, Intelligent, Persistent, Capable, Charming, Confident, Encouraging, Reliable, Helpful, Humble, and Imaginative. I will leave that up to you to think on those traits. They are equally important. Bless you, Chaplains, for your great work.

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