Helen McNeal Explains the Importance of Palliative Care Chaplaincy
The CSU Shiley Institute for Palliative Care just announced the release of a new course, Essentials of Palliative Care Chaplaincy, for chaplains working with or interested in working with palliative care patients and families. The course is taking enrollments now, with its first start date of July 26.
We took the time to speak with Institute Executive Director Helen McNeal to learn more, from her perspective, about why this course was developed, what the developing experts had in mind, and why chaplaincy is critical for healthcare.
Chaplains Minister to Patients and Teams
Why is chaplaincy education in palliative care so important, we asked? “Spirituality is a key component in whole-person care. Historically in the healthcare industry, especially in 20th and 21st century, its importance has often been undervalued and overlooked. The role of the chaplain has always been critical in palliative care. Chaplains not only ensure that the spiritual aspects of the patient and family are considered, but they also serve an important role in supporting the health and resilience of the palliative care team itself.”
Institute Has a History of Palliative Care Chaplaincy Education
When asked why this course was developed at this time, McNeal responded: “When we launched the Institute, one of the first palliative care training courses we offered was for chaplains, to give them the tools to incorporate palliative care knowledge into their ministry.
“To date we’ve trained over 700 chaplains, but after four years, it was time to do something that we do periodically with all of our courses and that is to take the opportunity to make major enhancements and ensure our courses stay both best-practice and state-of-the-art evidence based.”
Collaboration with Association for Professional Chaplains
“In the fall of 2016 we took down our original chaplaincy curricula, and, beginning in early 2017 began to work in partnership with Association for Professional Chaplains (APC) to create the new curriculum. I’m very excited about both the collaboration with APC and the new curriculum.”
McNeal pointed out that the curriculum for Essentials of Palliative Care Chaplaincy was not only developed in conjunction with APC, but the author and curricular task force – the independent group that works to review the curriculum and provide feedback to the author – are experienced palliative care chaplains with nationally recognized expertise in both chaplaincy and palliative care.
What Does the Course Cover?
Course content includes topics ranging from the role of the chaplain on the palliative care team, meaning-making, advance care planning conversations and difficult communications, care assessments and care plans for chaplains, interventions, supporting non-religious and culturally diverse patients and families, leadership, burn-out prevention and resilience, and more.
What is Important About this Course?
McNeal explained what is important about the new offering: “This course will have all the great resources and interactivity one expects from our courses; also, as an instructor-led course, it offers participants dialog and exchange with an expert instructor and other chaplains from all over the country; and, it will also offer enhanced course learning activities, reinforcing video segments recorded by national chaplaincy experts, and eight weeks of content.”