Advancing Spiritual Care Through Research

Space, Time and Shared Humanity: A Case Study Demonstrating a Chaplain’s Role in End-of-Life Care

Care is often perceived as “doing something”; spiritual care also involves “being with” another person. This case, set in a hospice inpatient unit, highlights a relationship between being and doing, and the role of chaplains within multi-disciplinary teams, in palliative care. During ward round, a patient learned that he was dying. He appeared overwhelmed; he had a young family and much to organize. Following an informal assessment, the chaplain’s aim was to offer him time and the opportunity to talk. For both, this became a space of uncertainty and vulnerability. It represented a pivotal point in his care as he regained control. After this encounter, other members of the multidisciplinary team assisted him to do what he needed. He died peacefully. The case demonstrates the value of spiritual care in relationship with the support of physical, psychological and social needs of people at the end of life, and their families.