All institutions can integrate chaplains into the health care team. Everyone in the organization - doctors, nurses, social workers, chaplains, administrative and housekeeping staff, and nurses aides - can play a role in supporting patients at the end of life. Spiritual services to consider providing include:
Organizations that offer chaplaincy programs need to explain to patients and loved ones what the program can offer them. Many patients are reluctant to call on hospital chaplains for fear of being preached at; let patients know that chaplains receive special training, have no desire to "convert" patients, and can offer comfort, guidance, and practical resources to patients of any religious background as well as patients who are not religious at all.
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This online version of the book Improving Care for the End of Life: A Sourcebook for Health Care Managers and Clinicians is provided with permission of Americans for Better Care of the Dying [ www.abcd-caring.org ] and Oxford University Press. All rights reserved.
For further information on quality improvement in end-of-life care visit The Palliative Care Policy Center [ www.medicaring.org ].