This is part 2 in a series celebrating Pastoral Care Week 2015: Spiritual Care Together, October 25-31, 2015. Read part 1 of the series here.
In a time when the topic of “self-care” saturates book titles and webinars, seminars and workshops, we continue to see more acute and chronic needs that remain unchanged. Despite the belief that knowledge is power, transformation comes through experience. As individuals are transformed, so the culture in which they live. Chaplains and Pastoral Counselors are at the heart of this transformation.
Our pastoral care department’s mission is: To promote spiritual health and initiate timely, competent, compassionate, and, as appropriate, confidential spiritual care to patients, families and staff and to provide pastoral care practitioners training in the caring art. This mission extends beyond our CPE Department to empower RNs and front line service employees not only to recognize spiritual needs of diverse cultural and spiritual backgrounds and make appropriate referrals, but also to attend to their own needs.
Our motto is: We are in this together. Under the leadership of our caring and competent Director, Rev. Kelley Woggon, M.Div., BCC, these are not merely words on paper but the way we live. One specific way that our Pastoral Care Department has moved beyond dialogue with multiple disciplines to full integration is our version of Code Lavender. We adopted this intervention which originated during a Cleveland Clinic nursing wellness program in 2006. The Cleveland Clinic officially implemented the Code in 2008 to address the critical levels of spiritual and emotional stress present among staff. In our facility, the Code Lavender experience is led and coordinated by the Chaplains.
Code Lavender utilizes the wisdom of integrative medicine. We engage the whole person – body, mind and spirit – through aroma therapy, calming music, deep breathing, guided imagery, massage, meditation and food. In response to the testimonies of the first recipients of this healing method, the senior leadership asked us to educate and provide our RN managers with this oasis of refreshment and renewal. Their transforming experience motivated them to schedule and support Code Lavender for their units. Although, staff members are at choice to participate; very few choose not to take advantage of this gift. Our ability to offer and staff’s ability to attend is made possible because our hospital leadership provides the space, resources and additional staffing. Be assured that regardless of budget, these offerings can be modified and implemented. RN managers are always looking for ways to support and care for their staff. If you ask for a few minutes at a staff meeting, print out and send by email a brief explanation of the evidence-based benefits of Code Lavender emphasizing the positive impact on employee satisfaction and engagement, as well as patient care outcomes (cared for staff provide better care to patients), you will not only have the managers’ ears, but also those of senior leadership. Bring a CD player with soothing music, lead a brief guided imagery which incorporates deep breathing, hand out a centering meditation, call a school of message and ask if students will provide free message. Small is big. As soon as you start, prepare for the demand to challenge current resources. This is a wonderful “problem.” Your initiative will result in increased integration which will advance your competence and the cycle will continue.
The added benefit of offering these interventions is that you too will be refreshed, renewed and restored. You will experience greater satisfaction in your ministry. You will be energized and be a more engaged team member. The value you add to the organization’s mission will be recognized and rewarded. And you will be more inclined to ask for and receive help from other departments.
To all my fellow chaplains and pastoral counselors, thank you for the work that you do. Thank you for meeting each person where they are and letting them know that they matter, that someone cares and that they can choose to bless themselves. This week make it your goal to do something extraordinarily nice for yourself – you deserve it.
Rev. Terry J. Tatro is a CBF-endorsed chaplain serving as the Staff Chaplain for Cressman Critical Care Center at the Norton Women’s Kosair Children’s Hospital – St. Matthew’s in Louisville, Ky.