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Spiritual Care in Common Terms


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Table of Contents

Foreword by James H. Gunn, ACPE Supervisor, Retired. Preface: Common Language for Charting Spiritual Care. 1. Why Record the Intangible in Health Care Culture. 2. The Theory - A Humanist View of Spirituality: Universal Sources of Patient Stories. 3. The Content - Twenty-Two Spiritual Needs Common among Hospitalized People, and their Goals of Care. 4. The Format - A Shape for an Elegant Chart Note. 5. The Process - Extracting the Relevant. 6. The Outcomes - A Phenomenological Approach. Epilogue: Becoming and Remaining a Spiritual Clinician. Appendix: The Use of Chaplain Chart Notes by Interdisciplinary Team Members at a Leading U.S. Hospital. References. Index.

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How to communicate the spiritual needs of patients and integrate these needs with other aspects of healthcare

About the Author

Gordon J. Hilsman, D. Min. has over 40 years' experience as a clinical pastoral educator and chaplain in hospital, addictions, mental health and hospice settings. He has previously served as a Catholic parish priest and hospital chaplain. He lives in Washington, USA.


Humanistic care is the result of a collaborative effort across all the disciplines including clinical chaplains. Gordon Hilsman in his book successfully makes a case and provides a practical framework for chaplains to document the state of the patient's human spirit in the face of uncertainty and adversity in the medical chart. This act of "humanizing" the medical chart creates the climate for spiritual care to complement medical care and therefore promote healing. This book is a must read for every member of the interdisciplinary medical team. -- Juan C. Iregui, MD Palliative Medicine & Ethics
Magnificent work - a must-read for health care professionals. Hilsman's artful analysis of spirituality fills a gap in the caring professions' knowledge base. Providing insight into healing, Hilsman's theory draws the reader into recognizing what makes up the human spirit from surprising angles. -- Brenda Miller, MSN, RN, BC-NE, Nursing Director, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Mass.
Kudos for Spiritual Care in Common Terms, an inspiring and self-revealing look at the science and art of spiritual care. Hilsman reveals the best-kept secrets of professional chaplaincy and openly welcomes all who care for the body, mind and spirit of the human person. A must read! -- Tim Serban, Chief Mission Integration Officer at Providence Health & Services, Oregon, National Volunteer Lead at American Red Cross Disaster Spiritual Care, Author, and Board Certified Chaplain
Weaving together a lifetime of experience with a growing body of research, Gordon Hilsman has crafted a guide that proves beneficial to both the novice clinical pastoral education student as well as the seasoned clinical spiritual care giver. This book, both expansive in breadth and thoughtful in depth, is warmly accessible yet never trite, making it also a significant resource for interdisciplinary teams interested in the practice of spiritual care. -- Trace Haythorn, Ph.D., M.Div., Executive Director, The Association for Clinical Pastoral Education Inc.
I have had the privilege over recent years in diverse professional learning settings to experience Gordon examining this topic of capturing in common language the soul of another so that this vital knowledge can be understood by the multidisciplinary care team to inform goals and plans of care. Combining theory, cases, numerous examples of goals of care, and spiritual care wisdom honed from years of clinical education and practice, Gordon masterfully provides (using his criteria for quality chart notes) a very understandable, significantly substantive, and exceptionally readable volume that will serve very well the chaplains and health care professionals to whom he has devoted his life for the benefit of the care recipient's healing and wholeness. -- David A. Lichter, D.Min., Executive Director, NACC
This is a marvelous and important book. In lucid prose, Gordon Hilsman explains the importance of succinct, earthy spiritual assessment notes for the medical record. He shows us the how and the why, and reminds us how important it is to create an image in the chart of the entirety of a person. The patients we all serve, and our poor beleaguered healthcare system, will be the better for listening to his call, recounted with warmth, wisdom, empathy, and good humor. -- David K. Urion, M.D., FAAN, Director of Education and Residency Training Programs in Child Neurology and Neurodevelopmental Disabilities, Co-Chair, Ethics Advisory Committee, Boston Children's Hospital
Spirituality of patients is an essential domain of whole-person care. Patients often suffer in silence; that suffering or spiritual distress must be recognized and treated. Professional chaplains are essential members of the healthcare team. It is critical that they communicate verbally and in the chart note the spiritual needs of the patient, how they are addressing that need and what outcomes the team should look for to help the patient heal. Spiritual Care in Common Terms offers the language and format for chaplains to communicate this clinical aspect of spiritual care that can be understood in the reductionist clinical framework but keeps the patient's inner narrative in the forefront of their care for all members to provide compassionate care for our patients. This is a must read for not only chaplains but for other members of the interdisciplinary team. -- Christina Puchalski, MD, FACP, FAAHPM

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