‘I think you just learnt as you went along’ – community clergy’s experiences of and attitudes towards caring for dying people: A pilot study

Andrew Goodhead, Peter Speck, Lucy E Selman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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Abstract

Background: Spiritual distress is a factor associated with poor outcomes at the end of life. Timely interventions, assessing and meeting spiritual distress, among patients are contained within nationally agreed guidance. Community clergy are well placed to work alongside healthcare professionals and chaplains to meet spiritual needs.

Methods: Qualitative interviews among Christian clergy in two South East London boroughs and a self-completed Death Anxiety Questionnaire.

Results: Fourteen clergy were interviewed from six Christian denominations. Participants described their experiences of ordination training and how helpful this had been for their work among Christian communities. Respondents were invited to discuss their knowledge of and involvement with palliative care services. Each interviewee also accounted for their understanding of pastoral care and spiritual care and considered whether any differences existed between these terms and, if so, what they were. Overall, clergy lacked any detailed formal training and had little experience of working with or relating to palliative care providers. Recommendations are made to improve educational opportunities and working relationships.

Conclusions: Creating opportunities for clergy and palliative care staff to meet and undertake shared training will enhance the quality and level of care for people dying at home who wish to receive spiritual support. Enabling clergy to develop links with local palliative care centres will enhance confidence for both clergy and staff.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)674-683
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Palliative Medicine
Volume30
Issue number7
Early online date8 Feb 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2016

Keywords

  • clergy
  • palliative care
  • dying
  • death
  • pastoral care
  • education and training
  • spiritual care
  • hospice
  • palliative care unit
  • chaplaincy

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