Treating the whole person – body, mind and spirit – includes helping to meet the spiritual needs of the patient and family before, during and after death. Our spiritual care is provided by the hospice chaplain who plans, assesses and cares for patients and their family’s spiritual needs during their end-of-life journey. Chaplains guide individuals through questions related to death, provide comfort and peace in difficult moments and support caregivers throughout the entire process.
*If you are a current Amedisys patient, please contact your Care Center directly.
What Is a Chaplain?
A chaplain is a valuable resource of the hospice team that guides patients through the end-of-life to fulfill their spiritual needs according to their beliefs and wishes. Chaplains work with patients and families of various faiths, denominations and beliefs, never promoting one religion over another. Their main goal is to create a presence of peace and understanding and provide a safe space for reflection and conversation.
They are trained in pastoral counseling, have completed an accredited program for chaplains and must meet certain requirements.
Chaplain Requirements for Hospice
- Earning a master’s degree in theology or a related field.
- Gaining a firm foundation in the principles of spiritual care.
- Obtaining certification from accredited organizations, such as the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education (board certified chaplains).
- Completing at least four units of CPE hospice and palliative care chaplain training programs.
- Gaining clinical experience under the supervision of an experienced chaplain.
- Receiving an endorsement from a church or religious organization (required by some certification entities).
Looking for a career at Amedisys as a hospice chaplain?
What does a hospice chaplain do?
Where our hospice nurses work to relieve any physical symptoms, our chaplains work to help resolve spiritual, social and emotional aspects for both the patient and family. Hospice chaplains are trained listeners who help find meaning and purpose in this near-death transition.
Chaplains create trusted connections with their patients where they feel free to share their own regrets and hopes with someone who will listen.
How do hospice chaplains provide support for patients and families?
Chaplains understand how difficult it is for families facing end-of-life decisions. They allow for open conversations and a safe space for individuals to share their fears, joys and hopes through the end-of-life process and after a loved one’s passing.
Some ways hospice chaplains provide comfort during hospice care include the following:
Creating a safe environment
Chaplains recognize the beliefs, practices and traditions that help people find peace during difficult times. They provide comfort and understanding and are a lifeline for patients and their families during their end-of-life journey.
Emotional and grief support
Grief does not start with the death of a loved one. Anticipatory grief can start as soon as you know your loved one’s time on earth may be ending. Hospice chaplains provide emotional support to the patient and their loved ones through each stage of grief before, during and after death.
Chaplains provide end-of-life support and can help arrange support groups, meaningful social activities and other services to help families cope after their loved ones passing. They are also able to facilitate and be a helping hand during memorial services and funerals. They may assist with the following:
- Help families contact a funeral service organization
- Offer grief counseling for family members
- Connect families with support groups or local churches
Hospice chaplains ensure all patients are comfortable discussing matters of death and end-of-life that may have otherwise remained unspoken. They create a calming presence where patients can talk openly and honestly about their fears or wishes. Hospice chaplains spiritually support patients of all faiths, denominations, beliefs and cultural traditions and never promote religion or seek to convert. They meet families wherever they are in life’s journey.
As patients transition to end-of-life, they reflect on the legacy they’re leaving behind. A hospice chaplain will help patients and their families explore values, beliefs and experiences by helping them understand life’s greater purpose and connect on a deeper level.
Patients often want to create tangible memories for their loved ones to hold onto upon their passing. Chaplains will assist in creating memory boxes, writing letters or recording videos to share stories and leave behind lasting memories.
Chaplains can help patients reflect on their past, relationships and accomplishments by processing emotions and to help them come to terms with their situation.
Patients may need coping strategies outside of prayer to help manage their stress and anxiety. This may involve mindfulness, relaxation techniques and other self-care practices.
Chaplain's Neutrality to Specific Religions
A hospice chaplain may often be seen as a religious figure who offers spiritual support and guidance. However, chaplains are trained to provide invaluable support to patients and loved ones of any religion, faith and background, as they realize that not everyone has the same set of beliefs and values. Chaplains are not bound by their personal religion but serve to support others and provide comfort and relief from grief.
Where do hospice chaplains work?
Hospice chaplains work in various settings to provide spiritual and emotional support to patients and their families. They meet the patient wherever they call home. Depending on the patient’s situation, this may be a hospital, nursing home, or private residence to find peace and comfort during this challenging time.
How to find a hospice chaplain near you
Are you looking for a hospice chaplain to help guide the spiritual and emotional needs of you and your loved ones? Discover how an Amedisys hospice chaplain can help and support you and your loved ones during a difficult time by complete the form below or calling one of our hospice locations to get started.