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The Blog to Transform Advanced Care

Advancing Care through Innovation, Observation and Collaboration.

C-TAC Member Spotlight: Chaplaincy Innovation Lab

The Chaplaincy Innovation Lab was launched in 2018 to bring chaplains, theological educators, clinical educators and social  scientists into conversation about the work of chaplaincy and spiritual  care. As religious and spiritual life continues to change, the CIL sparks practical innovations that enable chaplains to nurture the spirits of  those they serve and reduce human suffering.

The Lab’s work in this regard is guided by four central principles. First, all are welcome in the work of the Lab: we foster spiritual care that is responsive to all individuals, regardless of present or past spiritual or religious affiliation (including none), race, nationality, sexual orientation, ability, and gender identity. Second, we respect differences: we support a professional field cognizant of and responsive to cultural and individual differences in all forms. Professional chaplaincy does not seek to proselytize or convert. Third, we value learning together: we believe that spiritual care is best provided through collaboration across disciplines and communities. Finally we are research-driven: we privilege applied, praxis-oriented research and feedback loops that include clients, practitioners, educators and researchers in a way that strengthens the work of spiritual care.

The Chaplaincy Innovation Lab values highly its partnership with C-TAC because of the Coalition’s recognition that some of the most difficult moments in individuals’ and families’ lives — the decisions and experiences of advanced care — often do not receive the recognition or support that they merit. These moments can be disjointed and mechanistic, requiring individuals and families to make deeply impactful choices without taking into account the emotional, mental, and spiritual aspects of advanced physical illness. Chaplains can help bring a sense of continuity and wholeness to these processes so that patients and families feel empowered.

The core of C-TAC’s mission is to create a framework wherein the goals, values, and dignity of patients are the highest good of advanced illness care. The Chaplaincy Innovation Lab believes strongly that this good cannot be secured without close attention to the spiritual needs of those patients and their families, regardless of the religious or spiritual background of those served.

In joining the Coalition to Transform Advanced Care, the Chaplaincy Innovation Lab hopes to increase public recognition of the role of chaplains in advanced illness and end-of-life care, especially as formal religious affiliation declines and individuals and families have fewer connections to traditional, congregationally-based spiritual leaders. Regardless of one’s spiritual identification (including none), the existential questions raised by advanced illness call for compassionate accompaniment. This type of non-anxious presence is precisely what professional chaplains are trained to provide, and the Lab is grateful for the opportunity to strengthen C-TAC’s support of spiritual care at all stages of life.

Michael Skaggs is Director of Programs for the Chaplaincy Innovation Lab. Learn more at ChaplaincyInnovation.org.

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