Reverend Keith has been the head of spiritual and pastoral care at Nottingham City Hospital for seven years and he explained what the role entails. He said: “Many people assume we are just talking about religion but we are here to provide support and religion doesn’t have to come into it at all. Every day can be quite different. We can reassure people before they have an operation or we can be there to help people deal with devastating news. We are often just a reassuring presence. if we notice someone has been in hospital for a while with no visitors we will go and say hello just to let them know they are not alone and sometimes staff here want to take a moment to have a chat.”
The team helps more than 45,000 people a year across the Queen’s Medical Centre and Nottingham City Hospital. The chaplaincy team at the hospital cover a number of different faiths including Sikhism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Humanism. The team are at the hospital every day and one member of staff is on call throughout the night. Faith rooms are also open throughout the day and night for quiet prayer.
The team have held memorial services, emergency weddings and consoled patients and family members during upsetting times.
They have also kept patients company after a long stay, been a friend to staff members and helped family members deal with loss. In some cases the chaplaincy team have even provided support and training for staff in dealing with loss.
Rev Keith said although certain jobs could be sad he found it rewarding that he could provide a reassuring presence to others. He said: “Knowing that you are there for someone just to be able to talk to them, listen to them and console them is really rewarding. When people see your collar, it is almost like a uniform, and they feel like they can open up to you a bit more. I am also fascinated by people, everyone has a story and I love getting to know people and learn about their lives. One of the greatest parts of the job is having access to all areas and being able to meet so many different people.”