By Democrat reporter
Jobs don’t come more unique than being a healthcare chaplain, especially in one the size of a small town – but Dawn Allan with her rich and varied background is ready to take on this exciting new challenge.
From growing up in Apartheid South Africa to working in diverse communities from Brighton to Shetland, Dawn brings a wealth of experience to her spiritual care role.
“Firstly it’s not all about God. I am a Christian but am here to offer whatever spiritual help patients and staff are looking for,” said Dawn.
“Essentially, spiritual care is whatever a person wants it to be. Our aim is to always put the patient’s needs first before our own.”
Dawn’s main role within NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde is to lead the Spiritual Care Team who represent different faith groups to develop and grow the Spiritual Care Service.
Dawn said: “Across NHSGGC we currently have 12 different healthcare chaplains involved in helping develop spiritual care which is integral to physical and mental health needs. Some have specialist training or an interest and experience in areas like mental health, palliative care or paediatrics.
“Communication is key to all relationships and it helps if the Spiritual Care team leads by example and is open and transparent with everyone, especially with patients. It’s vital that we are approachable and able to explain what spiritual care is and offer it in a way which makes sense to everyone.”
Dawn very much believes that the role of a healthcare chaplain isn’t to tell people what they need, but to be available and to offer spiritual care and support for anyone seeking it.
“This can take many forms: religious or pastoral or something as simple as reading to someone or listening to them. We know people can find it difficult to discuss some subjects with family members and we are here to listen and offer support or signpost someone without condemnation or judgement.
“We can also provide access to a variety of faith leaders and humanists for anyone, but it’s also important people realise that they don’t have to be religious to speak with our chaplains. This is inclusive for everyone and they know they can make use of our quiet spaces, when they need to, without having to be a ‘card carrying’ religious person!
“Bereavement and loss is obviously a big part of my job and I’m keen to ensure we help as many people as possible access appropriate bereavement information and to know how to access care and support in our local communities when a loved one has died.”
The Spiritual Care Team is well placed to signpost staff, patients and their loved ones to NHS GGC colleagues across a variety of disciplines and departments to ensure everyone receives appropriate care when they need it.
Spiritual Care is a person-centred service and the spiritual care team are able to respond to a referral to see someone within 24 – 48 hours. Healthcare Chaplaincy became a registered profession in 2017 and healthcare chaplains are accountable to the Professional Standards Authority. The NHSGGC Spiritual Care Team aim to be registered members of the UK Board of Healthcare Chaplains.
Dawn added: “This is a very exciting role and I look forward to getting to know staff and patients across all our hospitals as the Spiritual Care service develops and moves forward into the 21st Century.”