Hospice chaplains are very seasoned professionals who provide spiritual and emotional support to their patients and families during the end-of-life care. There are a variety of services that they can offer to them to provide comfort, such as: attentive listening, space to share feelings, disappointments, fears or anxieties without being judged. They are compassionate and accommodate to the preference or belief system of the patient, and offer rituals that are meaningful to them.
Chaplains can marry couples, baptize according to their own faith, and provide communion, they also offer prayer and can anoint patients and family members. They can offer traditional prayers, read scriptures, and carry out other spiritual and religious activities. Chaplains also direct funerals when asked and offer encouragement for the patient to reconnect with their religious community and/or family members so that they have outside support.
Chaplains advocate for the patient’s needs regardless of the facility or personnel working with the patients as needed. The chaplain’s role can also be that of a liaison between the family, the patient, staff and other agencies or funeral homes.
Chaplains can educate and help the family to assimilate the concept of hospice, which is not commonly understood. They also educate on the need for timely end-of-life arrangements and provide information for funeral home services without showing preference to a particular agency. They also assist the family with ideas on how to organize a funeral program.
A chaplain will also offer the family emotional support during the following 13 months after a family member has passed. Chaplains can be known as a friend, and advocate, a pastor or a liaison. Chaplains come from many faiths and are essential members of the hospice team. Their role is not clinical. They provide essential spiritual, emotional and social support to BOTH patients and families.