Patient and Family Education
In keeping with the Department of Chaplaincy Service's Mission to deliver "spiritual care and emotional support by maximizing quality in clinical services and pastoral education to patients, families, staff, and the community," chaplains frequently are engaged in patient and family education. This education occurs during the routine care chaplains provide.
Chaplains are involved in different patient care situations where education is part of that interaction. For example, chaplains may educate patients and families regarding the following:
- Patient rights: Referring the patient and family to the "Patient's Rights and Responsibilities" document to help them understand their rights and responsibilities, or inquiring if the patient has any questions about that document.
- Advance Directive: Assisting the patient in understanding and/or completing his or her Advance Directive so that the patient's preferences are clearly stated and is identified as desired.
- Grief: Describing the grief process to the patient and family, and indicating ways in which grief may be acknowledged and managed constructively.
- Relaxation: Suggesting ways and discovering those resources, techniques, or coping mechanisms that can be used by the patient and family to help reduce anxiety, worry and stress, and increase confidence, peace, and hope.
- Pain management: Assisting the patient manage with his or her pain by drawing upon rites, rituals, prayer, meditation, ceremonies, images (art), scripture and other resources that offer comfort and support to the patient.
- Funeral Homes or Crematoriums: Identifying for the family the various services and businesses available in the area, answering questions about practical steps to follow at the time of their loved one's death, showing them a list provided by the Department of Senior Affairs regarding the fees charged by specific funeral homes and crematoriums.
- Coping skills: Helping patients and families identify those spiritual and/or faith traditions or resources to draw upon for comfort and strength in light of the patient's health status.
- Communication with the health care team: Identifying those questions or concerns of the patient and family which are appropriate to discuss with other members of the health care team (physicians, nurses, etc.).
- Accessing the leaders of their faith community: Alerting patients and families that chaplains will request spiritual support, rites, and rituals from representatives from their faith community as desired (e.g. Eucharist Ministers, Sacraments by the hospital's Sacramental Priest, Prayers, etc.).
- Organ Donation: Responding to the patient's and family's questions about organ donation, and helping them locate the appropriate person(s) to help them understand the organ donation process.
This list is not intended to be either inclusive or exclusive, but simply illustrative of some ways that chaplains are involved in patient and family education.