As part of Inter Faith Week, here is our Chaplain, Saskia, sharing how we provide spiritual care to those who come to the Hospice…

At Birmingham St Mary’s, we look to ensure that all people, whether they’re religious or not, have the opportunity to access pastoral, spiritual or religious support when they need it.

I work part time at the Hospice and in addition, we have a team of spiritual care volunteers and we’re hoping to add more in the near future. Our volunteers come from different faith traditions as we try our best to have someone that anybody can relate to.

I work under the umbrella of the Family and Carer Support Team, so my colleagues are social workers, bereavement counsellors and my fellow chaplaincy team. When I’m not here, the Hospice has access to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital chaplaincy team, which has representative chaplains from all of the main faiths and there is always a chaplain available. In return, I am on call four nights a month for the QE.

Sometimes a patient wants specific religious care, they may want holy communion or prayer, and we provide that but sometimes people just want to talk and that’s what we’re there for.

At Birmingham St Mary’s, we have our own Inpatient Unit on site, where individuals can be admitted for short periods for assessment, symptom management or for respite. One of my favourite memories from working here is when I was on the ward and talking to a patient. She was of the Hindu faith and asked if I would come and say a prayer with her and I was very touched. I was really honoured that she asked for this despite the fact that we came from different faiths.

At the Hospice, we also have our Peace Room and the wonderful thing about it is that it’s for everyone. There are six cupboards for the main faiths but everyone is welcome to spend time in the room.

Spirituality is bigger than religion, everyone has a spirit and everyone’s spirit needs to be nurtured. People nurture their spirits in different ways; through formal religious rituals, it may be through music or nature, and through other people. Anything that lifts you out of the ordinary and the everyday, and gives your spirit joy and nurtures you spiritually. This is what is important to us when we provide support to our patients and their families.

Thank you Saskia for sharing your role with us. To find out more about the services we provide at the Hospice, here is an overview.