Monday, December 7, 2015

Patients’ expectations of Chaplains: What you need to know.

“What do patients expect of Chaplains?” This question was posed to me at a volunteer training event. At first, I thought it was a simple question to answer and because I was the speaker fielding questions, I proposed a few simple answers: kindness, respect, listening skills, no preaching, and expertise in matters religious and spiritual. I felt those were too simple, so I did a little exploration. From the Family Satisfaction Surveys in the Deyta reports, I analyzed the Positive Comments to find out more information. The Negative Comments gave no insight. Keep in mind, the family members received the Family Satisfaction Survey within a month of the death of their loved one. Here is a list of descriptors family caregivers used to describe their experience with hospice. The List—You will notice that I pulled together quite a number of descriptors as they were very similar in meaning. 1. By far, the number of times the following words were used were the most frequent: loving, nurturing, kind, respectful, considerate, warm, understanding, great help, gentle, comforting, sensitive, thoughtful, humane, patient, companionship, soothing, sent by God. Without question these attributes of the hospice team were valued far more than any of our expertise or clinical skill. These people had the expectation that we conveyed to them that were important to us, that they mattered. 2. Coming in second place in numbers of times used were these words: great, marvelous, wonderful, awesome, best, super, terrific, outstanding, incredible, exceptional, excellent. All of us like to hear these words said of us, but think about it...these words are filled with affirmation and energy! We met all of their expectations and in the midst of their grief they were able to find the words to express their positive emotions. 3. A very distant third were words used to describe clinical skills: expertise, professional, knowledgeable, skilled, informative. My sense is that it was assumed that the physicians and nurses, social workers, chaplains, home health aides, volunteer specialists, and bereavement counselors were all well trained and could do their jobs. It wasn’t the skills that mattered most it was how they went about using their skills that did. So, how do these positive words inform your hospice chaplaincy? Will you do something differently than you have been as a result? If so, what? What did you gain from this?

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