What does it mean to be a Christian health institution?

Burrswood logoPresented by Revd Christine Garrard, Senior Chaplain, Burrswood Christian Hospital

Christine  is senior chaplain and on the executive board. In this presentation she wanted to make a positive presentation of a Christian institution but did not wish to criticize secular health care.

At Burrswood Hospital the essential different is a shared and stated belief that God through his Holy Spirit is at the heart of all we do.  All staff have to respect these values.  The hospital is a place of prayer.  There is belief that prayer is part of the process of healing.  These factors make a radical difference.

They see the spiritual and physical healing as both equally important.  Compassion and care has been evidenced to increase healing. When people know that the doctor cares, people’s response changes. They engage more with the doctor.

The business model recognises that putting finances at the heart of what they do matters. They meet CQC. Faith drives the ethics of decision making. Imagine being at a Board meeting.  You apologise for not having done something rather than making excuses. This is accepted and apology accepted.

Patient care comes first. There is a shared confidentiality process and not individual confidentiality. The principle of whole person care spreads through all staff, from the cleaner to the doctor. There is a joint responsibility.

Feedback. The skill is there but behind that is the compassion and care. They pray for patients and with patients if they are happy to do that. Spiritual care is not always overtly religious as this could often be inappropriate. People are respected for who they are.

Should Christian care only be offered to Christians. NO. They do not evangelise. Offer care with genuine love. It is not unusual for people to ask questions about why the peace is different and what are the motives? Try to enable people to worship according to their own faith.

How do they communicate Christian values? She thinks many now have a sense of disdain towards Christian values. They experience this.  Because they are Christian, people often don’t expect them to have all the facilities.

How open should you be about being Christian? Hard question. It is a work progress at Burrswood.  Still got the same mission statement which started the hospital 100 years ago but how it is expressed changes over time.  The issues of who can have a Genuine Occupational requirement.

The aspect of shared confidentiality is challenging. Consent is an important part of this process. Detailed information is only shared when it is going to be of important in the care of the person. Every patient is welcomed by the chaplain.

Burrswood has never been financially sustainable. It is very tight at the moment. Now patient numbers increasing and a surplus in last three months for the first time.

Potential for more community impact is great but do not have resource to do it.

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