24 May 2023

The Chaplaincy Team at the county’s two acute hospitals are busier than ever, offering vital support to patients, visitors, volunteers and staff.

The team at The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH), which runs the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and Princess Royal Hospital in Telford, has recently grown to nine to include chaplains from different faith backgrounds.

During 2022, the team was involved in the care of nearly 5,000 patients through prayers, blessings, baptisms, emergency weddings, support in end of life care, last rites, gatherings of remembrance, holy communion, and responding to emergency calls.

There is representation from Islam, Buddhism and Christianity to reflect the rich diversity celebrated within the hospitals and community, and representatives of other faiths and world beliefs are also called upon as and when needed.

The demand for their support, which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, continues to grow as the team’s work expands into more areas of hospital life.

The team helps to deliver regular training to increase staff awareness of supporting a patient’s pastoral, religious or cultural beliefs. They facilitate pastoral, spiritual and religious festivals and events such as Ramadan, Parinirvana, Easter, Shavuot, Khordad Sal, Harvest, Diwali, Armistice and Inter Faith Week.

The chaplains also sit on a wide range of staff groups and are active members of the various networks, including the Race, Equality and Inclusion staff network, Palliative and End of Life Care Multi-Disciplinary Team and the Patient Experience Group.

Rev Pat Aldred, Lead Chaplain, said: “One of the biggest misconceptions about chaplains is that we are only there in times of bereavement and loss, but we are involved in so much more.

“Being there for patients and visitors is a big part of what we do, but we are just as focused on supporting the staff who are the backbone of our hospitals – we like to call it ‘caring for the carers’.

“Giving staff the space to offload and reflect on their experiences is something we’re doing more of, and we know from the feedback we receive that this is greatly valued.

“Sometimes it just helps to have someone alongside to think things through; someone with the time to listen. We are here to offer that to people regardless of their beliefs.”

Hayley Flavell, Director of Nursing, said: “Coming into hospital can be unsettling and stressful, but the listening ear of a chaplain can make all the difference.

“Our chaplains play a unique but central role in the care we deliver, and having a larger and more diverse team only enhances this.

“Through this service, we are broadening the support that we offer to patients, families and colleagues, and many people are having better experiences in our hospitals as a result.”

A range of stakeholders were involved in the recruitment of the Chaplaincy Team, including patient representatives, staff and the Chair of the UK Board of Healthcare Chaplains Professional Advisors’ Panel.

You can find out more about SaTH’s Chaplaincy Team at Chaplaincy – Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust (sath.nhs.uk)