Chaplains on hospital call across Norfolk
When someone from your family, church or community is admitted to hospital, there is a team of chaplains and volunteers ready and willing to provide a visiting service in hospitals right across Norfolk. Eleanor Langan, Lead Chaplain Norfolk and Norwich University Foundation Hospital Trust, answers some questions about the service.
Q Is there a chaplain in the hospital?
In our larger hospitals, the Norfolk and Norwich, the Queen Elizabeth at King's Lynn and the James Paget at Gorleston, there is a chaplain available every day and a message can be left on an answer machine if they are not in the office.
For smaller hospitals there will be a chaplain, though they may be part-time and it may not be possible to arrange a visit immediately. Nevertheless if you ring the hospital they should be able to give you a contact number
Q Does the person have to go to church to be visited by a chaplain?
No not at all, we can be a bridge between you and the person in hospital. By mentioning your name we can show your concern for those from your community. The patient may welcome visits from a chaplain, especially if they are lonely or thinking about matters of faith. A time in hospital may be an opportunity to think more deeply about spiritual matters. Occasionally a patient may refuse further visits from the chaplain, but he/she may be glad to have been remembered by you.
Q Who will visit?
It is likely that the first encounter will be with a chaplain who is an ordained member of one of the recognized Christian churches. A trained volunteer may be asked to follow up with subsequent visits. These volunteers enjoy using their pastoral gifts and it may be you know someone who would enjoy this role and could join us.
Q What happens if the patient is from another faith?
A chaplain should be able to contact other faith representatives who can come into the hospital. Chaplains are in hospitals to support anyone within the community irrespective of their belief system.
Q What do chaplains offer?
Chaplains are patient-led and so are prepared to listen to stories which sometimes involve painful and complex emotions. They help people find meaning and purpose in their situation and aim to be accepting and compassionate.
In the larger hospitals there may be a Sunday service to attend and certainly chaplains offer Holy Communion at the bedside, anointing and prayers. Chaplains are used to discerning a patient's tradition, so they may use formal or free prayers. They may sit quietly with a patient and simply hold a hand or offer a quiet blessing.
Q Are chaplains employed only for patients?
No, we are available for families or carers as well as staff within the hospital. It may be that the patient is unconscious, but the chaplain is needed to help those around the bedside to come to terms with a difficult situation.
Next time you hear about someone in hospital why not call a chaplain?
Here are some contact details:
The Norfolk and Norwich University NHS Hospital Foundation Trust – 01603 287470
The James Paget University Hospitals, NHS Foundation Trust – 01493 452408
The Queen Elizabeth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust King's Lynn – 01553 613441
Pictured above, inside the chapel at the NNUH, are hospital chaplains, from the left, Jane Nursey, Bill Bazeley, Stella Green, Bishop Jonathan, Eleanor Langan, John Ashe, Janet Stewart, Pauline Greasley and Nick Collision.