Published: 05/08/2004, Volume II4, No. 5917 Page 28
The chaplain from TV docusoap St Jimmy's recounts a week doing God's work in a modern hospital
Sunday The week begins with a service, which takes place at Leeds Infirmary or St James'University Hospital.Unfortunately, the timing means that I rarely have a chance to see St Jimmy's on TV.
Monday Straight into administration, which even chaplains cannot escape.This includes dealing with many papers on departmental chaplain policy.At 8.50am all of the Christian chaplains meet for a short service, a constant reminder of our true business.
Tuesday Once a week one of the chaplains is on night call and tonight It is my turn.The shift ends early on Wednesday morning, having begun at 8am the previous day.At 5am my pager goes: a man who was near retirement has died unexpectedly, and his wife and daughters ask for prayers.The policy is to arrive within 40 minutes of the call and I meet the deadline comfortably.
Wednesday Religious diversity is represented by our honorary Buddhist chaplain, who delivers his weekly meditation sermon.The services are particularly helpful to staff seeking alternative methods of coping with stress.The importance of developing staff needs in a busy, modern NHS environment cannot be over-stated.
Thursday All chaplains who are interested in research meet every Thursday at the chaplaincy research education and development office.The study is focused on barriers faced when nurses enquire about the spiritual needs of every patient. In the afternoon I attend intensive care as a young woman has died.For the second time this week I listen to the bereaved, in this case the parents.Being professional in this type of situation means not being consumed by my own feelings of compassion for the deceased and relatives.
Friday The local research ethics committee meets, with a highly detailed agenda. I always try to inject humour into proceedings as they can be far too dry - not surprisingly, this is not being filmed as viewing figures would reach a record low! Usually I am filmed two to three days a week.Patients often remark on my appearances on TV, but I have yet to be recognised on the street or been asked for any autograph.
Chris Swift is head of chaplaincy services at Leeds Teaching Hospitals trust, and a star of Yorkshire Television's docusoap St Jimmy's.