Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.


Your browser is not accepting cookies. This means means you will have to log in each time you visit the site.
For the best experience of, please enable cookies.

By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. You can change your settings at any time.
Learn more

Trust redesigns project by introducing a multi-faith and belief chaplaincy team, delivering services according to spiritual needs of users during hospital stay


    • Chaplaincy was predominantly a Christian service that lacked the multi-faith approach
    • It was mostly measured by qualitative outcomes like letters, phone calls and cards of service users
    • Diversify workforce, ensuring service users receive person-centered care


    • Established a multi-faith and belief chaplaincy team to meet diverse religious needs of people
    • Provided continuing professional development (CPD) for teams to acquire knowledge about various spiritual requirements of patients
    • Introduced Baha’i services, meditation services and mindfulness services for staff members
    • Connected patients with their community, once discharged from the hospital


    • Close links to local faith and belief groups resulted in timely help being delivered to patients on request
    • Enabled patients to feel spiritually connected throughout their hospital experience


Chaplaincy has originally been a predominantly Christian service. Due to societal changes; chaplaincy has to respond to service users of various faiths & beliefs. Lindsay van Dijk has been the first appointed Humanist lead chaplain within the UK, who has helped to diversify the chaplaincy team in order to meet the diverse needs of the population around Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust (BHT).

Under a year’s time, the chaplaincy team has gone from a fully Christian team to multifaith & belief; which includes Christian and Roman Catholic; Muslim, Humanist, Baha’i, Buddhist, and Interfaith. The team has also expanded from 23 to 43 volunteers Trust-wide. Continuing Professional Development (CPD) has been established for the chaplaincy team, so other healthcare staff can learn more about the various spiritual & religious needs of the service users.

Amongst Christian Sunday services, the team has also included Baha’i services, meditation services and specifically mindfulness services for staff members to care for their mental and spiritual wellbeing. Chaplaincy is now included within the holistic care model of BHT. Diversifying faith & belief within the chaplaincy team has created plenty of media attention and for other NHS chaplaincy teams to come to Buckinghamshire NHS Trust for best practices.


The rationale for the project was to ensure service users at BHT would receive person-centered care in line with their spiritual & religious needs. An Equality and Assessment tool for chaplaincy has been used to assess the faith & belief needs. Top three faith & belief within the population of Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust is Christian, Muslim and non-religious (see chaplaincy strategy document for statistics).

This led ultimately to diversify the workforce to meet the diversity in spiritual & religious needs of the patients, visitors and staff members. Due to increasing the volunteers from 23 to 43; the spiritual & religious needs can swiftly be addressed when required, which has helped reduce any costs of increasing paid workforce. Clear communicating and close link to local faith & belief groups have helped to call upon when a specific request of support has been received by a service user.

The chaplaincy also connects patients with their community once discharged from the hospital if they desire. This helps to make patients feel connected to their community’s faith or belief throughout their hospital experience. CPD, re-establishing services and integrating a new chaplaincy recording service helped develop the service and quantify the impact for patients.


Due to updated record keeping, chaplaincy can now quantify outcomes and map how many service users have benefited from chaplaincy support. Challenges were to update the face of chaplaincy from a fully Christian service; to a multi-faith & belief service.

Marketing around chaplaincy services through updated leaflets, education & training, radio hospital, services, CPD, and media attention has helped to re-design multi-faith & belief chaplaincy services with the 21st century. Previously chaplaincy services were mostly measured through qualitative outcomes (letters, phone calls, cards of service users). We have additionally quantified the outcomes.

Close links have been established with psychology & counseling, wellbeing team, PALS and carers Bucks to ensure whole rounded holistic care with other well-being services. Goals (see attachment) to improve the services were people (extend chaplaincy team and diversify workforce), team building & community (establish close links within chaplaincy team and with other department and local faith/ belief groups, Major Incident involvement), strategy (update old policies & documents and market the multi-faith & belief chaplaincy department), Data collection (re-invent a system to collect quantifiable data).


The lead chaplain actively met with various services within the Trust, which includes: psychology & counselling, well-being team, PALS, carers Bucks, play therapists, nurses and attended senior nurses meeting on invitation of Chief Nurse Carolyn Morrice, with the intention to work collaboratively with other departments within the Trust, and to help re-brand chaplaincy services.

This was not to solely focus on patients as service-users, but also to make staff aware that they can easily access the chaplaincy service. The lead chaplain has actively engaged in dialogues with local churches and belief groups and has been including external organisations such as MIND and Macmillan to help educate our staff further.

We believe that development lays in connecting with other people to learn from best practices and have therefore connected with other NHS Trusts to learn from them in order to decide how to best organise our chaplaincy service. Other lead chaplains from neighbouring Trusts and hospice have asked us to share our strategy document and system of data collection with them for further development. Due to the spread of diversifying our chaplaincy team, we now get more referrals from other faith & belief groups (non-religious & Muslim for instance).


Patient experience has improved due to aligning with their diverse spiritual & religious needs. Nonreligious are entering the service now (currently on 7%) which wasn’t demonstrated previously. As shown in the attachment; most of the chaplaincy referrals come from healthcare staff. Healthcare staff are aware that chaplaincy can include different faith & beliefs and call upon us to provide generic chaplaincy support (to anyone regardless of their faith/ belief/ background) including to refer specific support (Muslim, Humanist, CofE). The goals demonstrated in point 6 have been fully achieved which can be found additionally in the attachment. In addition, staff access chaplaincy services more often now for an individual conversation or for an emotional debrief.


Stakeholders included internal healthcare staff (mental & physical health), chaplaincy volunteers, patients, and family members in order to contribute to the holistic care model and to organise a service everyone felt a part of. External stakeholders were local faith & belief groups, to help improve the service (referrals during and after out of hours and contacting local clergy) but additionally for marketing (promoting multi-faith & belief chaplaincy and say in leaflets and referral process).

The lead chaplain engaged with them in meetings; within a group- and individual setting. The contributions of the stakeholders were collated through meetings, phone calls and emails. Their contributions to our referral process for ‘out of hours’ was of crucial importance as we now have a robust system of contacting local clergy to ensure 24/7 chaplaincy support. Their contributions to our leaflets helped to ensure to include all faiths & beliefs within our marketing materials. Additionally, contributions of stakeholders led to new services such as the Monday Mindfulness session, Baha’i session and our CPD training sessions.


Support service (non-clinical)

Type of organisation