This poster was on the wall as I was leading a focus group of siblings who had a sick brother or sister. Two of them jumped up and took one of the little strips of paper. We were in the spiritual care room at Uffculme, it was one of several resources available for whoever came in.
What do you need today?
Yesterday I got to facilitate a couple of sessions as part of a module on multidisciplinary spiritual care at Birmingham Children’s Hospital. I did a session on child spirituality and then one on spiritual literacy. I started with this definition:
Spirituality is the aspect of humanity that refers to the way individuals seek and express meaning and purpose, and the way they experience their connectedness to the moment, to self, to others, to nature, and to the significant or sacred (American consensus conference definition).
One of the things which came out of the discussion was a realization for some that spirituality does not necessarily have religion inherent in it. Spirituality at its essence is about purpose, meaning and connectedness and we all need to explore those areas and make sense of life, uncover our purpose, find people and places where we have a sense of belonging. Hospital is sometimes a place where our purpose, meaning and connectedness can be challenged by what is happening to us and it is perhaps even more important to explore how we can help people engage with their spirituality so that they can process what is happening to them. Spiritual care is integral to good healthcare.
Cited in Puchalski, C., Ferrell, B. (2010). Making Health Care Whole. Templeton Press. p.25.
I like this logo – it reminds me that so many people are involved in the spiritual care of sick children and young people and that it helps root them at what is so often a difficult time of life. I spent yesterday doing some preliminary work on a research project around spiritual assessment and got excited about the potential of it and the helpfulness of other researchers who have shared their work with me and projects that are willing to make things available free of charge to research like ours.
We launched the Centre last month and this month have published our first newsletter:
CPSC October Newsletter
Many of the resources and information that we share has wider relevance for those who work with children and young people – if you are interested in receiving it email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yesterday we launched this book – the culmination of a lot of very hard work and the contributions of many people – it is full of stories from the practice of chaplains, youth workers, nurses, play workers as well as a myriad of ideas for spiritual care activities. It was launched at a conference on Spiritual Care at Birmingham Children’s Hospital along with a new Centre for Paediatric Spiritual Care – check it out the website below and follow us on twitter!
I don’t quote from our own work that often but we are very proud of this book and want to honour the lives of so many sick children and young people whose stories are shared as well as the innovative practice of those who contributed to the book and the creativity that is represented. While it is a book about chaplaincy many of the ideas would translate into a lot of other contexts such as mentoring or pastoral care.
We are very grateful to Jessica Kingsley Publishing for their support in the journey from the initial idea to the book we see today.
If you were watched Children’s Hospital: the Chaplains Episode 2 you just caught a glimpse of the other side of the postcard Kathryn wrote – this is it! Inevitably a television programme doesn’t always have time to unpack the why of what is done, and the role of Chaplains in spiritual care involves many things you don’t see in the wonderful programme. Kathryn writes: Postcards can offer a non-religious yet spiritual meaning providing comfort, encouragement, and hope with pictures and words that may become a source of meditation. In succinct and profound ways, a verse or statement on a postcard can communicate understanding and reach into the heart of a child or young person’s experience without many words or long explanations. Simply by giving a card that reads, “Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes it’s the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow” offers recognition, understanding and hope in the midst of a journey that is fraught and highly charged, yet may be difficult for a young person or child to articulate. Cards can hold a message of peace and hope without diminishing the reality of how challenging and frightening life can be for a child dealing with a serious illness. When postcards offer scope for open and broad reflection they can speak into complex emotional and spiritual journeys while reflecting key principles and sources of hope and inspiration from within a religion.
I am inspired by cards that unexpectedly arrive – today I will ask God who to send a card to – perhaps you might like to do that too…