October 24, 2022

Spiritual Care Week: Relevant and Responsive in Times of Crises

A spiritual caregiver’s role is rooted in the sacred space of the selfless acts of listening that promotes open and safe conversations to manifest into moments of hope and resilience.

This week we celebrate Spiritual Care Week, an opportunity for chaplains and pastoral care workers to share their story and to celebrate the important impact they make on patient care at Northern Health.

Our pastoral care team are Northern Health employees, faith employed chaplains and volunteer chaplains, who cover a wide variety of faith and spiritual beliefs.

One team member commented, “We, as the Pastoral Care team, offer a space that sees a patient as a person who wants to have their story heard. A space where we can offer holistic care, because our spiritual health is just as important as our physical health.”

Reverend Melanie Moore, Anglican and Palliative Care Chaplain at left extreme and Natalia Dewiyani, pastoral care worker at extreme right with Registrar Aaron Bagnato and Palliative Care Consultant Georgina van der Vliet

Dr Georgie van der Vliet, Consultant for Palliative Care Services, said, “Pastoral care is an incredibly valuable element of providing patient-centred care. Its core focus is connecting with a person’s humanity and respecting their dignity. Thank you to all of our pastoral care team for the work that you do.”

Danielle Baker, Acting Nurse Unit Manager, ICU, said, “As we have a very diverse cultural and ethnic background of patients, understanding their needs is vital to providing holistic, patient focused care. We have noticed that in ICU, given the acuity of the patients, there is definitely a need to provide pastoral and spiritual services to our patients and their families. It is often wonderful to witness the peace of mind that is given to families knowing that their loved one has received spiritual and religious care in one of the most important stages of their life.”

“It really encompasses Northern Health values of ‘kind and together’ when we are able to provide this service in their most challenging time,” said Danielle.

The role of our pastoral care service here at Northern Health was best exemplified during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are a few of the stories they have to share.

“I cared for a dying patient in Ward 6. His sister was the only family he had. She was too unwell to visit the hospital and has not seen him due to COVID-19 restrictions. I was able to setup a video call for his sister to give him his last prayer. She was grateful for the opportunity, as their faith was important to them.”

“The daughter of an elderly Turkish patient, from a non-English speaking background, requested a Muslim chaplain to pray for her mother. We were able to organise a chaplain who speaks her language to pray with her. We received feedback from the daughter on how it comforted her.”

“A patient in Oncology Ward said to me, ‘Thank you for listening, I just want to be listened to.” 

“I was able to organise a priest to come to pray for a patient at high risk of suicide. Before he was discharged, he told me, ‘I used to read the Bible to prepare for my death, now I read it for my life.”

“On one occasion, we gave a birthday card to a 20-year-old patient. He started to cry. He said that he had been homeless and no one had ever given him a birthday card.”

The Northern Hospital Epping Multi Faith Chapel is available for use 24/7 and is located between the front reception and Henry’s Cafe, opposite the pastoral services office.

Broadmeadows Hospital has a quiet room available for use seven days a week. It is located past Degani Cafe, on the left.

Bundoora Centre has a quiet room available seven days a week. This can be accessed anytime by contacting Reception.

To find out how you could use their service, please click here.

The Pastoral Care team from left to right: John Davies (Broadmeadows Hospital), Kelly Pinto (Bundoora Centre), Natalia Dewiyani  (Northern Hospital Epping) and Reverend Melanie Moore, Anglican and Palliative Care Chaplain (Northern Hospital Epping).