Compassion in Times of Disaster: Understanding the Role of Spiritual Care in Times of Disaster

2011, 14 pp
The purpose of this resource is to promote greater understanding for the role of spiritual care in times of disaster. For centuries, it has been the role of faith community leaders to provide emotional, spiritual and religious care for the many aspects of our human experience. Among the well understood functions of the faith community leader are: performing baptisms, conducting weddings and funerals, providing religious education and pastoral care. What is less understood is the role of spiritual care in institutions such as health care facilities, social service agencies or within the justice system and the military.

While terminology is changing within the profession, for the sake of this document, the term chaplain will be used to describe these spiritual care professionals whose unique training allows them to be first-responders and ongoing responders in disaster situations. The term spiritual caregiver will be used to describe para-professionals, and spiritual care provider will be used to describe those at all levels and qualifications of spiritual care in this context. This document will list the professional competencies, standards of practice and the code of ethics by which chaplains practice. This document will also define the role of the volunteer and the faith community leader i.e. pastor or priest, in providing spiritual care in times of disaster. Four levels of Spiritual Care and concurrent competencies will be outlined.

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