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Reform Magazine | September 23, 2019

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Compassionate communities in Coventry

Compassionate communities in Coventry

Hospital chaplains in Coventry are taking the services they offer out of the hospital into the wider community. Paul Holmes, Chaplaincy Team Leader, reports

In recent years, the chaplaincy at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire has extended its work with patients outside the hospital setting, to support them both spiritually and pastorally after their time in hospital. The chaplaincy department here is a busy and diverse team working in one of the largest acute hospitals in the UK. Our team contains both ordained and lay people from a range of backgrounds and faith traditions. I, as a United Reformed Church minister, lead it jointly with an Anglican, the Revd Simon Betteridge who is Lead Chaplain and Bereavement Services Manager.

We have extended our work beyond the grounds of the hospital and the period of admission, because we found that people with whom the chaplains had spent time and built up relationships during their spell in hospital, were going home with no follow up or support. At the same time, one of the hospital consultants working with people who had lung conditions – chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) – identified that many of his patients were on the ‘revolving door syndrome’ of frequent short admissions to hospital. The social isolation led to higher levels of anxiety, causing a flare up of their symptoms leading to emergency admissions. If there was better support in the community, the consultant concluded, hospital admissions could be reduced or even eliminated.

So, in 2016, the Ripple project was launched – a weekly community clinic for COPD patients. The clinic aimed to improve quality of life by reducing social isolation, improving mental wellbeing and self-management, thereby reducing numbers of unplanned hospital admissions. Ripple is managed by the chaplaincy team and supported by volunteers. It takes place in a church-run community centre in Coventry. The clinic provides an opportunity for people to meet and mix with others in a similar situation with common issues, to have a chat and maybe participate in a range of activities suited to their abilities and interests. This then became a model for how community-based projects could help patients and their families…

Paul Holmes is Chaplaincy Team Leader at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust. www.compassionate-communitiesuk.co.uk

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This is an extract from an article that was published in the September 2019 edition of Reform

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