“I am the Lead Chaplain here at King’s College Hospital, heading a team of staff and volunteers who provide pastoral and spiritual support to patients, relatives and staff across the Trust’s three sites – Denmark Hill, PRUH and Orpington.
“With COVID-19 our Volunteers, Honorary Chaplains and some faith leaders in the community are unable to come in or are self-isolating, so I have adapted my role ensuring that they can support patients and relatives remotely, for example over the phone. I have also the new responsibility of liaising with teams and healthcare professionals to ensure that Chaplains who are not on-site full-time are briefed when they come in so that they are up to date with the COVID-19 situation in the hospital.
"Our Chaplaincy team is providing nonstop support and comfort to patients and family/friends during COVID-19. With restrictions on hospital visits and many relatives self-isolating, support for relatives has in some cases been over the phone, and at times by email. For some relatives who can visit, we make sure the Chaplaincy team co-ordinates with the ward staff so that the Chaplain visits the patient when the relative is with them. In some cases, for relatives who are unable to come into hospital, we co-ordinate times of prayer with relatives so that as we are praying in the hospital, they are also praying at home for their loved one.
"COVID-19 is the kind of experience that heightens spiritual distress and can challenge one’s world view, belief, and faith, however I stay hopeful and positive. For me, and I believe the same would be for my colleagues in the Chaplaincy team, we have had to dig deep into our spiritual resources to keep going. We begin each day with prayer and reflection, which prepares us to face the day ahead. Moreover, we try to celebrate any little success that we make in overcoming barriers supporting patients, relatives, and staff that COVID-19 presents to us. Most of all, we check on each other to ensure everyone is okay.
"To everyone reading this message, let us keep our spirits up. Let us be mindful that we are each other’s keeper during this time, and it is okay to cry on each other’s shoulder as we face this unprecedented challenge."