Being in hospital can be quite an ordeal at the best of times, not just from the (obviously) physical perspective, but from a psychological and spiritual one as well. Now and again, if someone is very lucky, there might be a fellow Pagan or Pagan friendly person on the ward, but more often than not they will be faced with the healthcare staff knowing little or nothing about their specific needs, wishes and desires. Indeed, we have heard cases where healthcare staff have (with the best of intention, we’re sure) suggested that maybe a Christian minister could pay them a visit. This situation is obviously unacceptable and can often lead to a feeling of isolation and even rejection, particularly if someone is not lucky enough to have friends and family who can help. Things can become particularly heightened around our sacred times and festivals. Within our ‘multi faith society’, the lack of awareness of pagan needs is not due to neglect, but often a case of simply not knowing. Over recent years the subject of the total needs of the person has actually received much attention from within healthcare. However, understanding the link between healthcare and spirituality is still very much in its infancy and the various professions rely heavily on information being provided by spiritual and religious groups that currently exist.
Our philosophy for this service is simple; we aim to provide a system of help and support for those who need it be that in hospital or home. We do not consider ourselves as experts on the subject and we believe that any service provided should have the input of all concerned. We aim to provide a service that encompasses hospitals, hospices, care homes, the community and the person’s home environment. Whilst we are primarily concentrating on the hospital visiting aspect, eventually we aim to broaden the scope of the service to provide a person focused support network for Pagans undergoing any adverse health situation, life crisis or feelings of isolation. This would include:
· Temporary ill health
· Long term and/or terminal illness
– Mental illness
– Parenthood (for the period spent in maternity hospitals)
· Community isolation
Initially our aim is to achieve a high quality befriending and ministerial service for the pagan community in a healthcare setting. The service will be provided by Pagans for Pagans using a 2 tier network:
1. Visitors or befrienders. These would be volunteers who are willing and available to go in to the hospitals/hospices on the request of Pagans in hospital in order to offer moral support, a friendly ear or a like mind etc.
2. Pagan Ministry. These would again be volunteers who by virtue of their path/training would minister to the spiritual needs of individuals, through ritual, meditation etc.
There are diverse traditions within Paganism and it is not always possible to provide someone with a volunteer of the exact same tradition, however many of the services offered are of a more generic nature.
To achieve this we aim to initially provide information for healthcare professionals and existing hospital ministry about Paganism as a faith in today’s society. This information together with the Pagan ministers would then eventually become part of and liaise with the multi faith ministry in hospitals and hospices in the various healthcare trusts. This will hopefully begin to provide Pagans with support and the ability to have spiritual comfort and aid while facing their own specific problems.
Residential/Care home visiting
By educating both community healthcare trusts and social services together with staff in the various community care facilities about Paganism and liaising with them in the same way as for the hospital visiting, we hope to be able to provide the same level of support as for that of the hospital ministry as outlined above. This will hopefully cater for the growing elderly Pagan population who are living in this setting.
As with the hospital visiting the community aspect will encompass a high quality befriending and ministerial service for the pagan community. The service will run using the same 2 tier network as outlined previously:
1. Home Visitors. These again would be volunteers who are willing and available to go into the care homes and hopefully peoples own homes again at the request of the person needing help to offer moral support, a friendly ear or a like mind etc. Any practical help offered around the person’s home or garden is purely in agreement between the volunteer and the person visited, and no money should be paid.
2. Pagan Ministry. Again as with the hospital ministry volunteers who by virtue of their path/training would be able to minister to the spiritual needs of individuals, through ritual, meditation etc.
It is hoped that the volunteers would ideally offer support to Pagans who are local to themselves who were housebound or not able to travel to Pagan gatherings, or who wanted to network with like minds but were unable to do so for whatever reasons. On request from social services or directly from the people who wanted to use this service, the volunteers would visit people in their own homes and the ability to take part in festivals or rituals, also in their own homes, would be provided if needed, by volunteers who were happy to do this.
If you feel that you can help with any area of our Hospital Ministry service, please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org