Monday, February 23, 2015

5 Ideas to Solve the Biggest Frustration of Hospice Chaplaincy

Managing a large caseload might very well rank as the largest source of frustration in hospice chaplaincy. It often seems that there are more patients at the end of the 30 days than there are days to see them. Being out of compliance is not an option. What is a hospice chaplain’s strategy? First, it begins within the Chaplain. Whatever the number of patients is, the Chaplain must have a can do attitude. A hospice Chaplain must grasp the reality that regardless of the size of the territory or number of patients there is a lot at stake. There is no doubt the task is daunting with new admits and death calls to make both of which narrow the time allotted to making the routine visits. It not only can be done, but must be done. Second, develop a strategy. The hospice Chaplain will find it workable if he or she will target a large caseload based upon geographical proximity. Putting it simply, find the clusters of patients each nurse is caring for. Find out when the nurse is visiting the patients and make your visits on a different day. It is never advisable to crowd the patient with more than one visit per discipline per day. Third, work your plan. If you are a home team Chaplain you must be determined to accomplish your goal. Visit the clusters of patients and do not get away from that. Certainly, there will be occasional emergencies, meetings, and funerals. But, that is the exception and not the rule. Stay with it. The facility Chaplain will park his or her car at the facility and make as many visits as time allows. Then off to another facility on the next day. For the Chaplain who has both home and facility patients, plan out your week with a good mixture of both. I recognize that the home Chaplain and home and facility Chaplain will struggle from time to time with a family “not cooperating” with your plan. It’s a part of the job that we will have to adapt to. This is the part that makes hospice chaplaincy so challenging. Fourth, see as many patients as possible at the beginning of the month and as many patients as possible through Wednesday of each week. I am sure you can understand the value of this. If your caseload is 55 patients and you are a home team Chaplain, seeing 40-45 patients in the first two weeks of the month will ensure you will have success in staying within compliance. Fifth, don’t go to seed on the quantity/quality debate. Some Chaplains argue that the quality of spiritually care is directly related to the quantity of time spent with a patient. That may or may not be the case. Regardless of the outcome of any debate, your task is to provide compassionate support for each patient. Spending over an hour consistently with each patient is somewhat excessive. Use your time wisely. Bless you Chaplain Colleagues in your work. You have a lot on your plate.

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