Hospital or Hospice visiting/chaplaincy

1st draft Dec ’16

visitingWhat does  hospital or hospice chaplaincy/visiting  mean?

Studies have found that just the presence of a sincere, non-judgmental person to talk to can help hospital and hospice patients.  People who are sick or dying often appreciate being able to share their fears and feelings with someone outside their family and friends.  They may also welcome someone from the outside world with whom they can have a “normal” conversation, even a joke.

To engage in hospice or hospital visiting you will need to be a good listener, compassionate and understanding.   Whether you volunteer as a religious chaplain or a lay person, this is a very worthwhile area to join, but, as with prison visiting, it is not easy.  It can, however, be very rewarding.

active-listeningPractical advice and links for those who want to get involved

This advice has come directly from a CoI friend:

“I think that what is needed most is an openness to working with the skills of deep listening together with an acceptance that in practical/answers terms there is very little other than empathy that I have to offer, coupled with a preparedness not to judge.  If I was starting from scratch I suppose that I would ask friends, search on Google and visit my local hospital where there will inevitably be some sort of Chaplaincy team

Finally, some cautionary advice: “Be patient, as the wheels of entering into this area can sometimes be slow.”



Click the links below to get started or support your research

Hospice Volunteering, what you need to know

NHS England Guidelines for Chaplaincy

Leaflet outlining more Guidance complied by NHS Scotland

Generic Volunteering Website, contains lots of general support and advice for starting:

Network of Buddhist Organisations Buddhist healthcare chaplaincy: introductory courses 2017


Personal testimonials from people who are already doing this

“I find it very rewarding work because I warm to helping to produce even a slight smile.  I find the NHS staff in the ward generally very patient and caring of their patients and generally good to work with. It is a slightly strange field in which to be doing voluntary work, a field in which at the moment I do not expect to see the results of the work other than in the immediate response of the person that I am with.“  Howard Saunders

Working at the hospice over a number of years was a wonderful and inspiring experience.  Just walking in the door you could feel the care and compassion which inspired everyone who worked  there.  The mental and physical well-being of the patients truly was the aim of everything that was done there.  I feel that Thay’s teaching has given me the gift of no fear which enabled me to concentrate 100% on the needs of the patients.”  Barbara Hickling

“Every meeting is totally unique, sometimes we will have a conversation together, sometimes we sit together quietly. Sometimes I speak one-to-one with relatives or friends. I am still ‘feeling my way’ with this new role. I find it very nourishing, and challenging in ways that I welcome but did not expect. It feels a privilege to be with people at such a vulnerable time, very heart-warming…”     Gillian McKenna



A contact-person

Contact Howard Saunders, using this contact form, please (it helps prevent SPAM)

Contact form for hospital/hospice visits/chaplaincy

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