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The Pastoral and Spiritual Care service offers a person-centred approach to supporting people at all times but especially when dealing with difficult and challenging circumstances by encouraging them to work with their own value and belief system to find hope, healing and spiritual wellbeing. It provides a range of services for service users, carers and staff, from all backgrounds, across each of the trust’s localities.

During the pandemic, and because of Government guidelines to appropriately manage infection, prevention and control, the Trust ‘Pastoral Care Team’ were unable to maintain their usual visits to patients situated on inpatient wards.  The service offers individual one to one support which requires face to face contact.

To address the lack of contact during this period, the service engaged patients and staff to identify solutions to ensure Pastoral and Spiritual Care could be provided and support continued throughout the pandemic.

Who did you consult with and what did you ask?

The service spoke to a range of patients, staff and carers to identify solutions. This included reaching patients via ward community meetings and through a range of focus groups.  The involvement explored the opportunity to:

  • Develop the concept of a virtual chaplain
  • Set up a pastoral care talk line
  • Provide access to virtual meditation sessions
  • Produce the ‘Mountain Hare’ publication for those of faith/non-faith

The pastoral service received a very positive response from patients, carers and staff and it was agreed that all four initiatives would be a great solution.  In addition, the engagement provided further insight into how these initiatives could work in practice.

What did they tell you?

 The engagement ensured that each of the four initiatives could be delivered in the inpatient setting. Each initiative was co-developed in a timely manner as an immediate response to COVID-19 restrictions from Pastoral and Spiritual Care. This then ensured a continuation of pastoral and spiritual care.  By identifying and co-designing new solutions the service were best able to continue to provide a source of support for those who stated they had become isolated or felt anxious due to the pandemic.

In addition, ‘The Mountain Hare’ was co-created from feedback that suggested a light-hearted magazine containing individual stories, spiritual extracts, seasonal information, humour, and the contact details of Chaplaincy services would be helpful. The intention of the Mountain Hare was to maintain a link with those who told us they did not have internet access or stated they felt uncomfortable holding a conversation by telephone or video.  The magazine was distributed monthly across the Trust.

Access for patients to Chaplains were via the Trust wide initiative to put in place tablets on each ward.  These tablets were co-designed with patients following a successful pilot which captured feedback on the benefits. The rebranded name of ‘CHATPad’, meant that each tablet could be used for digital telephone/video calls using Zoom.  This meant people’s religious, spiritual, and pastoral care needs were met throughout the pandemic, which was a key part of the feedback received by people in services.

The Pastoral care team talk line has also since become an integrated part of the teams working offer. Offering a direct contact line when face to face was no longer an option. Virtual meditation sessions were also instated and continue to be delivered over a weekly basis and are now open to both staff and patients. All of these were based on the feedback from both staff and patients.

Where can you find more information about this work?

 If you’d like more information on the work to support the Pastoral and Spiritual Care needs of our Patients, Carers and Staff then please visit. Home – South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust

Engagement location: Trustwide

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