A chaplaincy service offered by the trust which runs the Royal Lancaster Infirmary has grown in just 18 months from one part-time chaplain to nearly three full-time chaplains with more than 40 chaplaincy volunteers.
RLI chaplain Ian Dewar said: “The chaplaincy teams who work across University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT) hospitals have been very proactive in supporting patients and families whilst in hospital and when dealing with difficult situations including end of life matters. The chaplaincy team also offer support to trust staff.
“The team is actively pursuing research and are planning to undertake a study into the benefits of mindfulness meditation to help support patients in the management of their cancer.
“Mindfulness meditation is becoming increasingly common in the NHS in supporting patients with a variety of illnesses.
“Mindfulness meditation means being aware and present in each moment and can be practiced by patients whilst sitting, standing or even lying down!
“It helps patients to bring their attention and focus to the present moment whenever they feel distracted. One way of doing this is to bring awareness to the sensation of a patients breathing, using this as an anchor for the mind to come back to.”
The chaplaincy team are also working in partnership with palliative care colleagues across the Trust on thinking through the language used when discussing resuscitation wishes with patients.
This can be a difficult discussion for many clinicians to have and is an area where technical or professional language may not make it easy for patients and/or their family to understand.
The chaplaincy teams will also run a project in Medical Unit 2 at the RLI starting in September, which will explore the link between dementia, palliative care and spirituality in an acute setting.
This is a partnership between chaplaincy volunteers and members of staff looking at the possibility for service development.
Ian added: “It’s really exciting to be able to get together with staff, discuss issues and see what answers emerge. It’s a real grassroots project.”