Baptists are well represented in healthcare chaplaincy, serving hospitals, hospices and other units in acute, mental health and tertiary settings. The role of a healthcare chaplain is to provide pastoral, spiritual and religious care to anyone accessing the site where they work – patients, families, staff and visitors. Healthcare chaplains usually work within a multi-faith and multi-belief team.
Most chaplains are paid by the organisation they serve and form part of the multi-disciplinary team working with each patient. For some this is a full-time role. Others combine it with another local ministry. Healthcare chaplains find themselves dealing with a wide range of issues such as illness, boredom, death and dying, suffering and pain, as well as the concerns and priorities of the organisation they serve.
Healthcare chaplains seek to come alongside people without judgment or prejudice to offer comfort and support in times of need. This ministry is often intense and gives a window into suffering and pain which is hidden in everyday life. Is it a ministry of invitation in which an organisation gives permission for the chaplain to share in its life and to offer a consistent, hopeful and kind presence to their community day by day. There is no typical day for a healthcare chaplain. Each day brings people who have their own unique circumstances and way of seeing the world. For that reason, it is an immensely interesting and fulfilling ministry.
Sustaining a career as a healthcare chaplain requires emotional intelligence and strong links to supportive friends and professionals, such as a pastoral supervisor.
Healthcare chaplaincy is overseen nationally by several organisations. Within NHS England, chaplaincy is run via the Network for Pastoral, Spiritual and Religious Care in Health. Baptists Together are part of this via the Free Churches Group. Healthcare chaplaincy is a registered profession and all chaplains are required to work to the standards set by the UK Board of Healthcare Chaplaincy, whether they themselves are registered with the Board or not. Finally, the College of Healthcare Chaplains promotes the professional standing of chaplaincy.