Weldmar’s Quiet Room and the Spiritual Care Team
17th November 2023< BACK TO NEWS
"You matter because you are you, and you matter to the end of your life. We will do all we can not only to help you die peacefully, but also to live until you die."
Cicely Saunders, founder of the modern hospice movement
Inclusivity at Weldmar
In common with many hospices, Weldmar has been devoting time recently to ensuring that our services are truly inclusive, accessible and welcoming to all who may need to use them. Our “Quiet Room,” formerly the chapel, has been redesigned to ensure that patients and their loved ones, of all faiths and none, have access to a comfortable, welcoming place where they can spend time, in peace, contemplation, prayer, in whatever way is right for them.
Redesigning the Quiet Room
The redesign was led, in consultation with staff and others, by the spiritual care volunteers Sophie, Veronica, Pauline and Maxine, who work within Weldmar’s patient and family support services. The room, which has a stunning stained-glass roof, now contains several books ranging from collections of poetry to religious texts, including the Old and New Testaments, the Quran and the Torah, carefully chosen to ensure that, as far as possible, they are placed and handled in accord with their traditions. Every Friday from 12-1, Maxine visits the quiet space to lead private prayer & Church of England communion if requested, while at other times it is available for patients, families and staff, just to be.
The room is decorated with a series of paintings by Dorset artist Pam Allsop. Depicting people, as Pam describes “in groups, in community, with love,” Weldmar Community Nurse Specialist Lu Worrall knew Pam’s work and suggested it would be ideal for the room. As Lu said, “Pam’s imagery is so powerful, with an otherness that offers patients, relatives and staff a portal to reflect, engage and be, responding to love at the most profound moments of their lives.”
Pam was delighted to offer the paintings on long-term loan, having had two friends receive care at Weldmar. Asked what spiritual care means to her, she said “Being there, with compassion and love.”
This beautiful definition articulates what can be a challenging concept to explain. For some, spiritual care and support involve matters of faith or religion, and these may define their spirituality completely. For others, religion may have no part in an individual’s sense of “otherness,” or their search for meaning and purpose in life, which of course come into sharp focus for those being cared for by Weldmar, and all who provide that care.
Weldmar Spiritual Care Team
While the individuals within Weldmar’s spiritual care team have very diverse views about what spirituality, religion and faith mean to them, they are united, as Pauline explains, in “Wanting to walk alongside those who are dying, being what they need us to be at that time.”
The team members are led by each patient or relatives’ need for emotional, existential, relational or religious support, often helping them to find meaning, acceptance or reconciliation, deal with relationships, conflicts and farewells. They may meet just once or a few times, or over a longer period, with members of the team also seeing people in their own homes.
The concept of “Total Pain,” first described by Cicely Saunders, who founded the first modern hospice in the 1960s, recognises the interplay of physical, psychological, social, spiritual and cultural influences. A devout Christian whose beliefs led to hospices classically being founded on this ethos, she stressed the importance of addressing all of these. Studies have shown that the sort of holistic care provided by hospices, including spiritual care, can alleviate much suffering, and reduce the need for painkilling medication.
As Sophie says “Being with someone who is dying, or their family, or the staff who care for them, is an immense privilege. At times they want someone simply to sit with them in silence, at others to talk. Cicely Saunders said ‘Suffering is only intolerable when nobody cares.’ I hope to be there to care, in whatever way it is needed.”
Veronica describes the importance of “holding – holding emotions, holding space, enabling people to feel held and safe.” The longest-serving member of the team, Veronica has collated an extensive list of faith leaders who can be called on to see patients if they request this, with contact details held on the nurses’ station at the in patient unit. The value of this was recently seen with a patient who was receiving support from the team at home; having had a Christian upbringing and later spent time on a Buddhist retreat, they wanted to speak to leaders from both faiths and the spiritual care team was able to put this in place.
Weldmar’s Spiritual Care Volunteers
Monday: Sophie’s husband Simon was cared for by Weldmar in 2020/2021, where they met Veronica and experienced the holistic care the hospice provides. While not associated with any one faith, Sophie has a strong sense of “otherness” and of the enduring strength of love beyond a relationship with a person’s physical form in this life. She is guided by patients, families or staff to have the conversations that are important to them at any given time.
Tuesday: Veronica describes her work at Weldmar as being “to accompany, to be alongside, people in whatever way they need me to be in that moment of their journey. To attempt to allow the Spirit to be felt.” She has a deep personal faith in God and in the Spirit which she says has “sustained me on my own journey through life. I hope this faith allows me to be alongside all people in a completely non-judgmental, loving way. For me God is Love.”
Pictured: Volunteers Veronica and Sophie from the Spiritual Care team.
Thursday: Pauline trained as a Soul Midwife with Felicity Warner, having been inspired by her words: ‘A good death is an extraordinary, moving and sacred experience ……it can also have a healing quality not only for the person who is involved but their friends, families and wider communities.’ This is the essence of what motivates Pauline to be part of this team.
Friday: Maxine describes her spiritual care role as “Giving to patients and families spiritual and religious support, as they cope with illness, pain and, in the future, loss and grief. Ways to support them include just listening, talking, singing hymns and praying. Just listening to unresolved needs and questions, searching for meaning, can be very stressful. I like to pray with people and reassure them that God is always with them and there is always hope and peace. You just have to find it, to regain a sense of spiritual wellbeing.” Maxine can give advice on funerals and offers Holy Communion in the hospice and in people’s own homes in the community.
The Spiritual Care team can be contacted via the reception at the Inpatient Unit, please phone 01305 215300.