Thursday, July 9, 2015

10 Highly Effective Habits of a Hospice Chaplain

10 Highly Effective Habits of Hospice Chaplains Over the years I have attempted to practice effective strategies and habits. They helped me carry ridiculously high caseloads and at the same time provided me a platform for beneficial pastoral care. Let me list several and perhaps you can add a few of your own: 1. Stay spiritually centered. The work we do demands our best, a clear head, a clean heart, a strong inner person. 2. Keep relationships strong at home. If you leave home and you’re all emotionally in turmoil from an argument with your spouse or children, your day can be doomed. Instead, as much as is possible, keep harmony in your relationships. Find a way to release the turmoil before you see your first patient if something does happen. 3. Organize your work. At Cornerstone Hospice we have a piece of our electronic charting to make out a daily/weekly schedule. Know where you’re going. Caseloads these days are higher than they have ever been. Don’t expect that to change. 4. Document your work. At Cornerstone Hospice we are required to document at the bedside or shortly thereafter. Do not allow your charting to grow stale. I promise you will miss something important. 5. Build relationships of trust with your patients and families. You may be the one to officiate at the funeral and your background with the patient and family will hold you in good stead. The surviving family members will appreciate you for it. 6. Work with the patient to achieve the Goals/Expected Outcomes. Help them to leave this world with as many loose ends tied up as possible. 7. Take time to assist a new Chaplain. Show him/her the ropes. Teach them good habits to practice. Introduce them to your IDT members. Always hold them in high regard among your colleagues. 8. Give a listening ear to IDT members that are going through difficult times. You will endear yourself to the Team and that is something very important. 9. Stay abreast of the chaplaincy world. Learn all you can and share it. 10. Become the go-to expert on matters spiritual and religious on your IDT. Ask your Team Manager for time to teach and train your Team. You will be the beneficiary of the Team’s high regard. These are 10 highly effective habits. What would you add?

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Chaplain and the Community

The Chaplain and the Community Does a Chaplain have a responsibility to get involved in the community, faith community, or other organization the Chaplain has an affinity for? Can an organization benefit from the experience and life expertise of the Chaplain? Those two questions should be answered carefully and thoughtfully. One of the characteristics of my particular generation is cocooning. It is challenging for me to spend the day at work, come home to dine with my lovely wife, go to the gym, and come home to relax and close out the day. I have my patterns, as do you. Is there time to carve out in the schedule for volunteering and connecting with the community? Have you ever gone to a networking meeting at a Chamber of Commerce or some other group? I remain amazed at the amount of time some of the people in those organizations spend not only during the day, but also, after hours to make those groups relevant. I would like to hear from you about what organizations appeal to you. It may be that you are active in APC or CPSP or ACPE. How do you make time to be involved with your favorite organization? T

Friday, July 3, 2015

Happy Independence Day!

To our American readers and Chaplains, have a safe and happy Independence Day! Freedom has never been free. Thank a Veteran.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

3 Essential Qualities of a Chaplain Leader

The qualities of leadership are never more evident than when the Team needs support. In hospice there are circumstances that require involvement. A Team looks to their leader for passion, connection, and direction. Passion is something the leader must possess. To be overwhelmed by the mundane and exhibit a sour attitude will dispirit the Team. Being a “drama-king/queen” will distance the Team. Being a micro-manager will anger the Team. Being a curmudgeon will confuse the Team. Being ultra-demanding will move the Team to seek another job. Building a stable Team that will work together for the long haul is a great goal of the Leader. How that is done is another matter. I re-emphasize, when your Team sees passion in your eyes and action, they will respond positively. Connection builds bridges of understanding. There are times when you as a Leader need to jump in and do some visiting of patients. This will keep your clinical skills sharp and give you an understanding of what the Team is experiencing in the field. When census soars, the Team will be exhausted unless you either have an adequate number of PRN Chaplains or you jump in to assist. When the Team sees your willingness to help your reputation among the Team will soar. Also, connecting with the staff means you are approachable, amiable, and gracious. You will always be the Leader, but your Team needs a human leader. Direction is a quality of leadership that indispensable. The Leader has to know the way. The Leader has to know how to communicate company policy, procedures, and changes in any methodologies that impact the Team. The communication of the Leader must at all times be free of complaining, belittling, disagreeing with Senior Leadership, and negativity. If you as the Leader are unhappy with where you are working and communicate that to the Team, do you really think they will be happy in their work? Bless you, Chaplain Leaders, in your efforts to build a highly effective Team.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

What does a Chaplain do when asked about eternal life?

Some may have reacted with shock at the last post regarding religious countertransference. When making converts takes precedence over developing a relationship with the patient, then there is a problem within the Chaplain. It is in the depth of relationship that a patient feels at ease discussing his or her concerns of the afterlife with the Chaplain. That discussion becomes a natural outflow to the trust the patient has in the Chaplain. Trust is not built overnight. The question of life eternal is a normal and natural question a hospice patient will ask when trust is established. What’s the Chaplain to do? A dependable rule of thumb is this…if your patient is from your particular faith community belief system feel free to share what that belief is about life eternal. If, however, the patient is from another belief system it is always a good idea to invite a spiritual leader from that system to provide guidance. Feel free to share your questions or comments on this very important subject by emailing me at

To our Greek readers

We are praying for you and your country. How may we further serve your spiritual care skills? You may respond by email: