Hospital chaplaincy is the essence of soul care

Hospital Chaplains
NHS Fife Chaplains (from left): Sharon Dick, Allan Grant, Dr Morrison, Rev Dr Jim Connolly, Rev Brady and Mrs Marion Morrison.

Hospital chaplaincy is a key role undertaken by people from many spiritual traditions including Church of Scotland ministers.

Employed by the NHS, chaplains work tirelessly to support patients, their families and hardworking NHS staff.

The Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, Right Rev Dr Angus Morrison, recently spent some time with NHS Fife chaplains to learn more about their work during a visit to Queen Margaret Hospital in Dunfermline.

The Rev Lynn Brady, who leads the Abdie and Dunbog Parish Church linked with Newburgh, and Sharon Dick, who attends Leslie Baptist Church, have teamed up to tell us what the job entails. Here's what they say:

The role of the hospital chaplain has changed quite significantly in recent years.

We are known as spiritual care chaplains now and have the great privilege of supporting people within the hospital community who are in need or distress – it is the essence of 'soul care'.

When we are faced with ill health, be it our own or a loved one, when life is uncertain and questions of our own mortality arise, all kinds of spiritual distress can be evoked.

We help people to connect to hope; express feelings of anxiety, uncertainty or distress and journey with them through the tears and laughter and joy that life may bring.

This can take the form of helping people to prepare funerals and say goodbye to their families or listen to someone who is deeply frightened about going home after a stay in hospital.

Listening and allowing people to talk is a major part of our work.

In society we are often unable or unwilling to allow the 'other' to express their raw and honest feelings as it can feel too threatening or overwhelming to hear.

In chaplaincy we invite the deeply painful stories to be spoken, valuing and cherishing these stories of joy and pain, in essence demonstrating to the person speaking that they have worth and value.

Much of our work is being present and a desire to model something of the incarnation of Christ who is present with us in all of our joys and sufferings.

Staff who work in the NHS are truly the 'unsung heroes'.

As chaplains our role is to support them too.

They bear witness to human suffering on a daily basis and we have a deep concern over the impact it can have on their spiritual wellbeing.

Healthy Harmonies is a NHS Fife staff choir and was established 2014 as a means of caring for the carers.

The benefits of singing are multifaceted – it builds a sense of team as we all work together to create a beautiful sound.

Breathing together, resting together, listening to one another creates a deep respect for those around us because we need each other to achieve beautiful music.

As we work together, the stresses and concerns of the day melt away because choir demands so much our attention.

We laugh at the silly vocal exercises we do and the funny noises we make, our musical director tells funny stories and we laugh a lot.

Choir members report feeling so much better after a good sing and look forward to coming every week and are unhappy when we break for holiday time so it must be working.

Healthy Harmonies is hosting a concert on November 29 at Torbain Parish Church.