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UAB Pastoral Care Library

The UAB Pastoral Care Vision

A Roadmap for UAB Pastoral Care

A Roadmap for UAB Pastoral Ca

The future of medicine is changing in the U.S. to support the patient in three contexts:   the hospital, the outpatient clinic, and at home in the community. Creative partnerships are needed and are forming daily.

The American Hospital Association[1] stated in its monthly publication that this expanded focus requires hospitals and health care systems to:

  • move beyond the acute-care in-hospital management of episodes of illnesses,
  • encourage contact with people over time in their communities to maximize the health of each person, and
  • create a better, safer, more efficient and affordable health care system.

Specifically, a greater emphasis will be developed to support persons earlier in the chronic disease process and to keep persons healthier through education and support.

This emphasis is referred to as a shift from “Volume Based” to “Value Based” healthcare. Hospitals will no longer be reimbursed solely on doing a particular procedure (volume), but whether the procedure made a difference in the patient’s health (value) over time. Focus is on “readmission rates” which simply means that every hospital’s financial future is partially tied to helping persons stay out of the hospital a minimum of 30 days after discharge. This is good for patients, and is good for all of us.

The Role of UAB Pastoral Care at UAB Medicine

What do these changes mean for pastoral care at UAB Medicine?

UAB Pastoral Care is evolving and reflecting this transition. We are playing a key role in finding ways to care for the whole person and meet practical, emotional, and spiritual needs of patients and families in three contexts:

  1. the hospital,
  2. the outpatient clinic, and
  3. at home in the community.

We want to be on the cutting edge of healthcare chaplaincy.  It’s all about building relationships wherever we go.  We build bridges to connect the inpatient, outpatient, and community experiences because that’s where our patients are. We understand we cannot do this alone, so we model this connection so that others can see how it works.  Then we teach others how they can do the same without waiting on us. Finally, we practice the “ministry of introduction” to connect needs with resources.

Below is an overview that is updated periodically given where we are in our plan.

The UAB Pastoral Care Roadmap, May 2014 – April 2018 .

  1. Inpatient and Outpatient Model Chaplain Assignments 

All Chaplains have assigned areas in inpatient hospital units and one or more outpatient clinics. We are aligning these chaplain assignments in inpatient and outpatient care with similar disease or need based areas such as: cardiology, neurology, oncology, geriatrics, transplants, psychiatry, etc.  Present chaplain assignments will be adjusted so that ten percent of all pastoral care visits will be made in the outpatient clinic setting by December, 2015.

All new chaplains hired after October, 2015 will spend their time in three equal contexts:  inpatient, outpatient, and developing support teams in the community.

  1. Community Model The Support Team Network.

Chaplains will be trained to be a support team “coach” by May, 2016.  A coach starts support teams, and teaches others how to begin teams.  We will teach interdisciplinary team members within UAB Medicine, and to faith communities in Alabama, to develop support teams on their own so that more teams can begin more quickly to meet the needs.

We will work with Care Transition Teams at UAB Medicine to align services across departments and through all care settings so that we do not work in silos.  We see pastoral care based in both the hospital and the clinic, and community so we will want to partner with neighbors, friends, and faith-based groups in the care transitions process.  We want to focus on vulnerable individuals, those with challenging psychosocial situations, and those with chronic or critical illness.

A Support Team is a tool in our toolbox at UAB Medicine to help persons have the practical, emotional, and spiritual support they need wherever they are. See http://supportteams.org for more information.

  1. Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE).  

Our CPE Supervisor is committed to our mission to care for persons in all three settings and will adapt the CPE program to teach students how to be effective in all three. Our Residents will be involved in all aspects of this plan with Staff Chaplains.

Every Chaplain Resident will understand and participate in our mission as a department.

  1. Volunteer Development in UAB Pastoral Care.

As we expand the breadth of our ministry, we will need more assistance with other tasks such as support for families in waiting rooms, help with screening patients, families, or employees to determine where our pastoral care skills can be best utilized.

We are developing a training, supervision, and support process for all volunteers from UAB Pastoral Care that will be an extension of our team.  New volunteer development will expand in 2016 and be a part of our caring for patients in the inpatient, outpatient, and community.

  1. Pastoral Care Research.

We will build a solid, theoretical base of practice that is evidenced based and outcome focused. We want to know why we are doing what we are doing and measure the outcomes in order to serve patients and families more effectively and efficiently in all three contexts. We will either hire a new team member to lead us in this endeavor, train one of our present chaplains to lead this research, or we will partner with researchers already within UAB Medicine to guide us in developing evidence-based best practices.

6.  Spiritual Care through Tele-Health.

NEW – In September, 2017, UAB Pastoral Care will have a profession chaplain available for Spiritual Support by voice or video on your phone, iPad, or computer so that you can get the spiritual support you need from home.  We will have an app you can download for free and make an appointment for a chat with a chaplain.

This is our vision for the future of pastoral care at UAB Medicine as we plan to align our work with how healthcare is changing.

Malcolm Marler, Director of Pastoral Care 

(1) American Hospital Association. (2013, January). Engaging Health Care Users: A Framework for Healthy Individuals and Communities. Chicago: American Hospital Association, 2012 Committee on Research, Benjamin K. Chu and John G. O’Brien, co-chairs.