Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Spiritual Care Volunteers: A Great Asset to Hospice Chaplaincy

At Cornerstone Hospice & Palliative Care, Inc. we use Spiritual Care Volunteers to provide extra support for our patients and families. We established this program of care because of the need and availability of our volunteers. It was obvious that many of our volunteers wanted further training so they could do their job better with patients. The training they requested had to do with spiritual care. At this time, we have over 40 trained SCV’s. What do they do? Here is a listing of their responsibilities: •Visit patients as assigned •Complete appropriate documentation •Maintain patient confidentiality •Confirm the religion and/or local church of patients (if applicable) •Call churches/clergy as needed •Provide Spiritual Care Services brochure to patient or family •Provide literature at the request of the patient or family •Meet the spiritual needs of patients •Provide referrals and other information for the Chaplain •Attend department training classes and meetings •Follow Policy and Procedures for hospital, hospice house, ALF, nursing facilities, and other facilities in which hospice patients are receiving care The training comprises 2 hours with a PowerPoint presentation. One of the issues that comes to the surface has to do with evangelism and proselyting. I remind our volunteers that there is a team of clinical staff, including a Chaplain, that is working with the patient. The Chaplain has been working with the patient and has a relationship of trust built. Should the patient have questions about the afterlife, the Chaplain would know and address the matter. Another issue that sometimes occurs has to do with counseling. Some volunteers fancy themselves as lay counselors who want to “fix” the patient prior to death. Again, this is not what we ask SCV’s to do. In one training class I led, there was a gentleman who had charts and algorithms he developed to counsel people. He did not have the educational background nor licensure to counsel. Our Volunteer Coordinator eased him out of our program. When you enlist the right people for the task, the blessings they provide are second to none. If you need help establishing this group, feel free to contact me at

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