Pastoral care visits are happening daily during the week and involve visits to both staff and patients. The staff are often visited in their departments, and depending on their work routine, there are often times to stop, share a short devotion or verse and pray together. These times are arranged around the work of the department, so they are varied, and some can be longer than others. There is an opportunity for staff to decompress and bring their concerns to the Lord in prayer. Each time we meet with staff is different; sometimes we are praying for sick colleagues, the pressure at work, the patients, and other times for personal issues or professional challenges and the future. There is always something to thank the Lord for and something to ask for His help about too!
Patient visits are different and just as varied. We visit each ward at different times, checking in with the patients we know, introducing ourselves to those we don’t know and offering communion to those that would like it once a month. The visits can be just introductory, what we would call hospitality visits, welcoming and checking in with each patient to see how they are doing, or can develop differently, listening, supporting and praying for patients or with their relatives. A phrase we hear a lot is “barak Allah fikum” which means “God bless you” in Arabic, from people of all backgrounds and religions. To visit the sick is a ministry and a “good work” which is appreciated by all. The situations and the people may be varied, but the needs are the same, to feel cared for and supported.
Pastoral presence is important for two main reasons, the first one being that academic research shows that the provision of spiritual care, especially in cases of serious illness, improves health outcomes. If we want to provide the best care for our patients, then spiritual care should absolutely be a part of that; in fact, we have a duty to ensure that it is! The second reason we provide Christian pastoral presence is that we are a Christian organisation, and this is part of our identity. Since the Hospital was founded in 1861, there has always been a pastoral presence here, whether provided by the missionary doctors, nurses, midwives, and staff or by chaplains and pastors both from the staff and the community. Today we have a qualified Chaplain and a Pastoral Care Team to meet these needs, who care for our staff and patients across the organisation.