Select Committee on Health Written Evidence


Memorandum by AHPCC (PC 9)


  The Association of Hospice and Palliative Care Chaplains (AHPCC) is a national body which represents the work of chaplains—committed to multi-faith working—in hospices and palliative care across the UK. The Association currently has a membership of nearly 200. In 2003 the Association published Standards for Hospice and Palliative Care Chaplaincy in association with Help the Hospices. The Association has also produced guidelines for the employment of chaplains within hospices and palliative care units and is committed to upholding Marie Curie Cancer Care: Spiritual and Religious Care Competencies for Specialist Palliative Care published in 2003.


  1.  In accordance with the World Health Organisation's definition of Palliative Care it is essential to have an understanding of Spiritual Care which incorporates whatever gives a person's life meaning. In this context the provision, location, timeliness of palliative care as well as caring for people at home needs to incorporate how people are cared for spiritually in living with a terminal illness which requires palliative care.

  2.  Establishing equity of service to people by geography as well as of age needs to ensure that services are fully available to people of all faiths and spiritual beliefs.

  3.  Issues of communication between clinicians and patients in regard to patient and family wishes and the acknowledgement of cultural and spiritual beliefs is best addressed by training and management. The honouring of culture and beliefs of patients, family and staff will be largely dependent upon the ethos and management of each institution.

  4.  Domiciliary support and personal care needs to take account of patient and carer wishes in regard to be being able to fulfil cultural needs otherwise patients and carers may feel awkward in asking for what they require.

  5.  The governance, standards and links to NHS services in regard to spiritual care can be established within the framework of nationally held chaplaincy standards which also reflect the NHS policy set out in Essence of Care. These can be audited using the framework provided particularly in areas of privacy and dignity. Research into the provision and delivery of spiritual care is essential as a support to governance and standards

  6.  The training and retention of staff needs to include how they respond to looking after people who are dying and how this relates to their own emotional and spiritual well being.

  7.  Spiritual Care is addressed in the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommendations. This needs to be translated to enable staff at all levels to address the spiritual needs of patients and carers and as to how chaplains/spiritual care providers can address the needs of staff and the whole organisation in order to fulfil the WHO definition for palliative care.

February 2004

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