We now have Catholic chaplaincy teams in all our hospitals across the diocese. Chaplaincy volunteers usually fall into two categories:
- Taking communion on a weekly rota, mostly visiting Catholics although open to anyone.
- Being a Catholic member of the chaplaincy team, being responsibly for visiting one or two wards on a weekly basis, and available for all, although with a special care for the Catholics.
Our hospital chaplaincy volunteers are amazing because they bring friendship, prayer and hope to people at the most difficult times of their lives. They may be with people when they have received bad news, when a loved one is dying, or when people are at their lowest during treatment. Operating within NHS guidelines, they can offer prayer, communion, or just a friendly face with time to spare. They can also refer patients on to a priest for confession and anointing. Kay Gatt, volunteer hospital visitor at Wexham Park, says,
I love what I do. I love being able to visit people, to pray with them and have a chat, to sit with them and hold their hand in their last minutes. Taking them communion is very special. I’d love to have more people on the journey with us, but it takes a particular kind of person to be on a chaplaincy team
The various Trusts have different processes, but all volunteers must apply to the hospital, have an interview, usually with the chaplain, do a DBS check, and be checked out by occupational health to make sure that vaccinations are up to date and they won’t get ill themselves. They must also have a DBS check in the parish. They work with the chaplaincy team in the hospital and with the local priest chaplains. Some Trusts have a minimum requirement of 3 hours a week, but many are happy for Catholics to be part of a weekly rota which may only mean serving once a month.
Often it’s current or ex-NHS staff who are drawn to hospital chaplaincy, but anyone with good person-to-person skills and a robust Catholic spirituality is welcome. Training is offered both by the hospital and by the Pastoral Ministry Office.
The Pastoral Ministry Office offers one training/reflection day a year. We had one on 9th November 2019, and will plan another for next year.
If you’d like to know more, please contact Avril Baigent on firstname.lastname@example.org or 07823 788 310. She can talk more about hospital chaplaincy and put you in touch with your local chaplain. You can download our diocesan hospital chaplaincy guidelines here: