Wednesday, May 18, 2016

What is the difference between being “clinical” as opposed to “compassionate”?

These concepts are not mutually exclusive.  A Chaplain, in today’s hospice world, must have a clinical mindset, but be compassionate in all that he or she does.


The clinical mindset captures vital information about the patient and family members.  Take, for instance, Pain.  The Clinical Chaplain serves as another set of eyes and ears to assist the patient by charting the amount of pain on a 0-10 level and identify which pain scale is used: VAS for verbal patients who are not Alzheimer’s or dementia patients; FLACC for those who are non-verbal but not Alzheimer’s or dementia patients; or PainAD for all Alzheimer’s or dementia patients.  Another example is the Big MAC.  The Clinical Chaplain observes the manner of Mobility: ambulating with or without assistance, or with a cane or walker, or in a wheelchair with or without assistance.  ADL’s: noting the amount of food the patient eats in a percentage format; noting any changes in patient’s sleeping pattern—sleeping more  or less…taking daily naps; needing assistance with bathing, for instance.  And, of course, the clinical Chaplain develops an individualized plan of care.  At Cornerstone Hospice & Palliative Care we have an Algorithm for Spiritual Care that identifies 21 of the most common spiritual concerns, provides potential Goals/Expected Outcomes, and then a listing of potential Chaplain Interventions. The overarching philosophy of our Spiritual Care Department is called Outcome Oriented Chaplaincy which guides us to achieve excellence in spiritual care. 


The alleged concept that a Chaplain who is clinical is cold is a fallacious statement.  Being clinical and being cold are two separate issues.  If a Chaplain is cold in his or her approach, that person probably is not a Chaplain with Cornerstone Hospice.  We expect our Chaplains to render compassionate support to patients and families.  Having a working knowledge of the medical issues, social work foci, and a mastering of spiritual care are what we expect of Chaplains.  Having a brain and a heart are two qualities clinical Chaplains use to render spiritual support.  Neither nullifies the other.  It is a “both and” concept. 


Your feedback is always welcome.

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