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Multi-Faith Group for Healthcare Chaplaincy

.....advancing multi-faith healthcare chaplaincy.

Quality Standards

Draft Standards for Spiritual Healthcare

(November 2006)

Draft Standards for Spiritual Healthcare (Nov 2006) 383KB

The purpose of this set of standards prepared by the Multi-Faith Group for Healthcare Chaplaincy is to provide guidance to NHS Trusts and other Bodies on current good practice in healthcare chaplaincy in the light of the publication by the Department of Health of Standards for the NHS. The standards are designed also to encompass the standards implicit in both the recent NHS policy and also the strategy for the spiritual healthcare workforce .

The following notes apply to these all standards:

•  The standards are encompassed by an overarching statement to the effect that:

“ There is a chaplaincy-spiritual care service that is equal, just, humane and respectful, and which meets the spiritual and religious needs of people of all faiths and people of no faith. Users of the service receive holistic spiritual care which conforms to best practice and is delivered in a seamless way across organisational boundaries ” .

•  The standards are set out in clusters of related standards. There are 32 standards proposed here which is not excessive for a service of this importance.

•  Standards which have known variability are not being proposed as a standard currently. The issues encompassed by them are still important and standards will be suggested in due course.

•  The term chaplain should be understood to include all spiritual care givers and the term chaplaincy should be understood to refer to spiritual care and spiritual healthcare.

•  Chaplaincy is understood to include all activities in support of pastoral, spiritual and religious care of patients and staff. Chaplains have particular expertise in accessing and enabling others to access resources of their particular religious/spiritual tradition which frequently involve s imagination and adaptation as well as memory and repetition.

•  The nature of healthcare chaplaincy as described within these standards is based on the development of services over the last 50 years mainly within the NHS by Christian and Jewish chaplains. The models and underlying approaches will not always be adaptable or relevant to other world faiths and the statements here may therefore require adaptation with this in mind.

•  Chaplains do much of their work with users who have no religious affiliation . They also work with members of and leaders of faith communities which are not within the recognised world faiths but which are valued by the user. The flexibility required of chaplains undertaking this valued and personal service within the chaplaincy service i s not readily reflected here other than in the essence of the overarching statement above.

•  Chaplaincy also has responsibility in holding/ containing the institution it serves for example by staff su pport, group facilitation, imaginative use of liturgy to express/ reflect the thoughts and feelings of whole wards and units or the whole or ganisation at times of disaster/ loss/ crisis.

•  The current statement of occupational/ vocational standards for chaplains is accessible at www.mfghc.com and underpins these standards. There is a strong alignment between these occupational standards and the NHS statement of Knowledge and Skills

The Revd Edward J Lewis
Chief Officer,
Multi-Faith Group for Healthcare Chaplaincy
November 2006

Draft Standards for Spiritual Healthcare (Nov 2006) 383KB


Listening exercise concerning quality standards
for spiritual healthcare

Draft Quality Standards June 05 (312 KB)

To: Chaplaincy Bodies and Chaplains in England

I am writing to seek your views about the draft quality standards which the Multi-Faith Group for Healthcare Chaplaincy (MFGHC) is proposing to discuss with NHS bodies later in this year. I attach a draft set of these quality standards on which I should be glad of your comments by end September..

Chaplains and chaplaincy bodies have for some years been used to discussing standards in terms of the competences required of chaplains. Since their publication in 1992, these competencies have developed, and been developed, so that they are now an important adjunct to the work of chaplains and the basis for the knowledge and skills framework for chaplains within the NHS. South Yorkshire SHA is supporting the development of National Occupational Standards for spiritual healthcare which will, in due course, replace the earlier versions.

Quality standards for spiritual healthcare which NHS bodies can utilise to ensure that they meet the need of their patients and users have not been set nationally. The publication of the standards for the NHS in July 2004 demonstrated however that the NHS needs standards of its own and can no longer just assume that quality is implicit. The emergence of clinical governance and monitoring regimes also requires spiritual healthcare to make itself visible and clear.

Against this background, the MFGHC has prepared this set of standards. They are derived from the NHS standards (1) ; the NHS policy guidance (2); and the work undertaken by South Yorkshire SHA (3 & 4). They also encompass aspects of current chaplaincy practice suggested by the small working group convened by the MFGHC Standards Committee in 2004. The Council is grateful to the working group and to members of the Standards Committee for the effort which has gone into preparing this initial documentation.

You can see a copy of the draft quality standards document here. I should be glad of your comments by 30 September 2005 either to me or to the Chief Officer at the addresses stated here. You may also comment via the MFGHC website at www.mfghc.com . All comments are welcomed but I should particularly value indications of omissions or issues which need clarification.

Yours sincerely

Rabbi Martin van den Bergh

Chairman :
Rabbi Martin van den Bergh
Visitation Committee Offices
Wembley Synagogue,
8/10 Forty Avenue, Wembley HA9 8JW
Tel: 020 8385 1855.
E-Mail: chairman@mfghc.com

Chief Officer :
The Rev. Edward J Lewis
Room 367, Church House
Great Smith Street
London SW1P 3NZ
Tel: 020 7898 1892
E-Mail: chief.officer@mhfghc.com


  1. Standards for Better Health, Department of Health, July 2004
  2. NHS Chaplaincy: Meeting the religious and spiritual needs of patients and staff, Department of Health, November 2003
  3. Caring for the Spirit : A strategy for the chaplaincy and spiritual healthcare workforce, South Yorkshire WDC, November 2003
  4. National survey of chaplaincy-spiritual healthcare issues 2002/03, South Yorkshire WDC, February 2003


  For details of the work being undertaken please contact Tim Battle at standards@mfghc.com

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