Jennifer asked the following questions…

Kuepfer refers to a study she did with spiritual resources among baby boomers.  What do you all notice being distinct in the spiritual resources or needs of baby boomers in your communities vs. older generations?

Speaking as a baby boomer my very first reaction to this question is that baby boomers may well have a strong need for connections.   I don’t know how typical I am but I think of things like baby boomers no longer living in their home towns, perhaps living in several different cities or states over the years so we’ve not done so well at maintaining long term friendships. Much of our generation did not work in the same factory for 30 or 40 years as our parents so those long term friendships did not develop. Siblings may well live in several different places and not be together so much.  A significant divorce rate is, I believe, a factor in the needs of my generation and it seems that many of my generation are no longer connected to the church of their youth, that is if they were connected at that time.   This raises the question of where they find their spiritual grounding.   Again, my experience my not be typical of my generation but these are some of the concerns of which I am aware from my own experiences or experiences of those I know of my generation.

With the Signature webinar, how do you react to their focus on measurement and outcomes for chaplain interventions?  Do you do anything similar, even on a small scale, in your department?  If so, what have you tracked?

Chaplaincy is something of a second career for me as I spent many of my younger years in youth ministry.  I’ve been in active chaplaincy work for 13 or so years now and was not in it very long when the hospital I worked as a per diem chaplain started talking about “measurements and outcomes for chaplain interventions.   Before that conversation went very far I moved into the current FT position where there has been, so far, no talk of measurements and outcomes.”  I personally am grateful that we don’t track measurements and outcomes.  It is my feeling that trying to quantify chaplaincy care in a life-care CCRC is almost like nailing jello to the wall.  An example is based on my experience which tells me that sometimes a brief conversation in the hall might have more impact on someone than a more lengthy visit elsewhere.  In a LTC setting we generally have the opportunity to build a pastoral relationship so many of our contacts, while important for building the relationship, may not in and of itself be very significant and hard to track other than as a small step in a process.  I think that providing spiritual care has a very fluid component to it so much of it would be hard to track with hard numbers.  What we can do, perhaps, is track how well we are doing at building the relationship and compiling the information needed to help us understand the spiritual resources and life stories of our residents.    In the Signature Healthcare presentation they talked about their work helping to provide good outcomes which sometimes help the bottom line.    If our interactions help benefit a person then well and good but I feel that it needs to be kept complete separate from the bottom line of our respective organizations.  I can’t image being a chaplain whose benefit to the organization is measured in any way by how he/she helped the bottom.  If the justification of our care is tied to the bottom line then it becomes to big of a temptation to let bottom line influence our efforts.  In the other video the emphasis was on building a culture in which spiritual care is seen as foundational to all of the work that goes on.  I like that emphasis very much a believe strongly that our building that foundation need not be tied to how we help the bottom line.  In fact, building that kind of foundation could have a big effect on how administrative decisions are made.