The elderly or seriously ill patients in the US can look for succor in three chaplain websites which have come together to provide free counselling.
The cousnelling to assess spiritual distress, offer personal guidance in life decisions will be provided on Skype or by phone by chaplains working with ChaplainsOnHand.org, ChaplainCareforVeterans.org and CantBelieveIHaveCancer.org.
“When people are faced with a crisis, somewhere in their minds and in their hearts, they ask questions about why this is happening to them,” said Rev. Eric Hall, President of the HealthCare Chaplaincy Network (HCCN), the New York-based nonprofit which launched the services in 2014.
The initiative brings forth tele-health outpatient care and reduce hospital stays, Hall says. “We face our own frailty, and people want an answer and to be able to talk it out,” he told Reuters.
So far, CantBelieveIHaveCancer.org attracted 200,000 unique visitors in four months with chaplains responding from across the US respond to such requests for support within 24 hours. “People are isolated and alone so much of the time, and spiritual care is something that has often been dismissed and ignored,” said Rev. Amy Strano, HCCN’s Director of Programs and Services.
Since one-fifth of the US citizens are unaffiliated to any religion, according to the Pew Research Center, the need for this service is in more demand as chaplains are trained to guide patients through existential questions about meaning, pain, isolation and relationships – with or without theological explanation.
“Back in the day, everyone belonged to a local congregation, and the pastor, the rabbi, or the imam came to the house,” said Rev. George Handzo, HCCN’s Director of Health Services, Research and Quality. “That day is gone. Our services are aimed at those that for whatever reason are thankfully not dying in hospitals.”
While two-thirds of hospitals do provide chaplains, many hospitals may see this as a more valuable alternative since it is cheaper and affordable, said those who are venturing into the tel-counselling process, that they describe as “spiritual first-aid.”