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Standards of Practice






Why Standards of Practice?

Although chaplains had established  Common  Standards for certification and a Common Code of Ethics, they lacked Standards of Practice (SOPs). There had been much conversation about Standards of Practice for chaplains but little formal progress. Others with whom chaplains serve and communicate (e.g., doctors, nurses, and those from other disciplines in health care settings) have standards of practice.

In 2009, APC affirmed, and invited the boards of other chaplain organizations to join them in affirming, Standards of Practice for Professional Chaplains in Acute Care. In subsequent years, SOPs for long-term care, and then for hospice and palliative care were developed and affirmed.

In 2014, the time had come to review and update the original Standards of Practice for Professional Chaplains in Acute Care. Looking at the standards, it was decided that the chaplaincy profession would be best served by the development of SOPs that would be relevant and applicable to all chaplains, regardless of the setting in which they serve.

In 2015, a draft of the integrated SOPs was developed and is now presented to the pubic and the chaplaincy profession for comment. Please see the section on Standards of Practice for Professional Chaplains for details.

Having standards of practice helps chaplains communicate with others about chaplaincy and assists chaplains in discussions with other chaplains. We believe that these standards of practice are a valuable addition to the field, helping to ensure a consistently high clinical practice for our profession.


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Standards of Practice for Professional Chaplains

In 2014, the time had come for the APC Quality in Chaplaincy Care Committee to review the Standards of Practice (SOP) for Professional Chaplains in Acute Care, which had been created in 2009. As plans were being made for this process, it was determined that that all three SOP documents – Acute Care, Long-Term Care, and Hospice and Palliative Care— were similar enough that they should be integrated into one document that could be utilized by all disciplines within professional chaplaincy. So in January of 2015, the Integrated Standards of Practice Task Force was created, and consisted of board certified chaplains from acute care, hospice and palliative care, mental health, pediatrics, long-term care, military, VA and workplace specialty areas.

The outcome of this task force has been the creation of a single Standards of Practice for Professional Chaplains document that uses language that can be interpreted in many different settings. Where this is most evident is the use of the term “care recipient.” In a hospital setting, the care recipient would likely be a patient or family member; whereas in a prison setting, the care recipient would be an inmate or guard.

Another example of the integration can be found in Standard 3, Documentation of Care. The task force realized that chaplains, depending on their specialty areas, have many different expectations of how they chart or document their work. So, instead of using language like “medical record” or “personal record,” Standard 3 now reads: “The chaplain documents in the appropriate recording structure.”

In addition to the inclusive language, two new standards of practice were created. Standards 14 and 15 cover the areas of technology and business acumen. Both of these standards reflect the changes that have occurred in professional chaplaincy just since 2009, and will encourage chaplains to stay current with the growing trends in technology and in the business aspects of the industry in which they serve.

There are many benefits to having one integrated Standards of Practice for Professional Chaplains document. First, it will eliminate the need for new SOPs to be created for every specialty area. Moreover, realizing that there is still a need for resources to help define the SOPs for our different contexts, in the months to come, separate task forces for the various specialty areas will be created to develop context-specific materials that will be compiled in an appendix to the official SOP document.

A second benefit is that it now enables any chaplain in need of utilizing the SOPs to begin using them immediately, without having to wait until a task force is created for their specialty to develop their own SOPs. In short, whether you use the SOPs for your own goal setting or to promote professional chaplaincy in your organization, they now speak to any specialty setting without having to redefine terms to speak the language of your context.

Finally the integrated SOPs now allow chaplains to have one unified resource to turn to and speak from as we hold ourselves accountable and promote our profession. Just like the competencies for certification are the same no matter what the setting of the chaplain, so too are the Standards of Practice for Professional Chaplains. Having one set of standards will create consistency in our diverse profession and will make us stronger.

The integrated Standards of Practice for Professional Chaplains are available for review and comment, now through September 7, 2015. We welcome your feedback on the integration itself, the language that was adopted to accommodate each of our contexts, and to the two new standards that were created. We would also like to hear how you have used the SOPs in the past for your own practice and how you see yourself using them in the future. Your feedback will be helpful as we go forward in creating additional resources to enable chaplains to use the SOPs most effectively. Please send your feedback to sop@professionalchaplains.org, which will forward your message directly to the Quality in Chaplaincy Care Committee. The comment period will close September 7, 2015, after which time, the standards will be finalized based on the feedback received, and a final draft will be published. The APC Board of Directors will affirm the Standards of Practice for Professional Chaplains and will invite the boards of our organizational partners to join in affirming them.

Participants on the Integrated Standards of Practice for Professional Chaplains Task Force included: Brent Peery BCC and Jana Troutman-Miller BCC (co-chairs), Karen Ballard BCC, Anna Lee Hisey Pierson BCC, Mark LaRocca-Pitts BCC, Jan McCormack BCC, and Michael Tarvin BCC.

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Standards of Practice for Professional Chaplains in Acute Care

In order to move professional chaplaincy toward Standards of Practice, the Association of Professional Chaplains’ Quality in Chaplaincy Care Committee brought together leaders in health care chaplaincy to work toward consensus about such standards. The first work group focused upon: 
  • Minimal but essential standards of practice
  • Standards for board certified chaplains in acute care settings
Models in social work and nursing, as well as models in Australian and Canadian chaplaincy, informed this work and provided catalysts for identifying and briefly explicating standards of practice within health care chaplaincy in acute care settings. The primary goal of the work group was to reach consensus about what standards of practice are most important at this time and to set those standards in front of the profession for further discussion.

The first work group created Standards of Practice for Professional Chaplains in Acute Care and presented it to the broader health care chaplaincy community for response and dialogue.

Participants in the Standards of Practice Acute Care Work Group included health care chaplains from APC, Association for Clinical Pastoral Education and National Association of Catholic Chaplains. Co-chairs were Stephen King and Jon Overvold. Work group members were George Fitchett, Daniel Grossoehme, George Handzo, Martha Jacobs, David Johnson, Bob Kidd, Mark LaRocca-Pitts, Ted Lindquist, Jane Mather, Kimberly Murman, Floyd O'Bryan, Don Patterson, Brent Peery and Sue Wintz.

The initial Standards of Practice for Professional Chaplains in Acute Care were published on this website and in PlainViews in February 2009 with an invitation for responses.

Thanks to the involvement of chaplains from various places and settings across the world, many comments and suggestions were received, which the work group has taken seriously and has incorporated.

The edited standards of practice were published in Chaplaincy Today, fall 2009 . This special issue includes reviews from chaplains and national leaders from other health care disciplines.

Your continued participation and feedback are welcome, as the Standards of Practice for Professional Chaplains in Acute Care are not static but will be adjusted as the profession moves forward.

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Standards of Practice for Professional Chaplains in Long-term Care

With the Standards of Practice for Professional Chaplain in Acute Care Settings developed, the goal was to develop standards for professional chaplains in long-term care settings. The acute care setting model informed this work and provided the catalyst for identifying and briefly explicating standards of practice for chaplaincy care in long-term care settings.

In order to move professional chaplaincy toward Standards of Practice for Long-term Care, the Association of Professional Chaplains’ Commission on Quality in Pastoral Services brought together several leaders in chaplaincy care in long-term care settings to work toward consensus about such standards. These standards apply to a particular subset of chaplains: chaplains in long-term care settings. The work group focused upon:

  • Minimal but essential standards of practice
  • Standards for board certified chaplains in long-term care settings
This   Standards of Practice for Professional Chaplains in Long-term Care document is a fluid document that will change as health care chaplaincy continues to mature and as situations change.

The edited standards of practice were published in Chaplaincy Today, Vol. 27 No. 2, Autumn/Winter 2011. This special issue includes reviews from chaplains and national leaders from other health care disciplines.

Initial feedback was integrated into the standards, which were presented to the APC board for affirmation in 2012. The standards were then forwarded to the boards of our organizational partners with the request that they join us in affirming and supporting them.

Your participation and feedback are welcome, as the standards of practice are not static but will be adjusted as the profession moves forward.

Chaplains and others can are invited to share feedback and experiences by e-mail at sop@professionalchaplains.org.

The Standards of Practice for Professional Chaplains in Long-term Care was a project of the Quality in Chaplaincy Care Committee of the Association of Professional Chaplains (APC), which is responsible for the work and to which this work group is accountable. This work group is largely composed of board certified chaplains from APC but also includes those with (non-representative) ties to the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE), and the National Association of Jewish Chaplains (NAJC). Thus, although brought together by an APC commission, this work group sought to contribute to the wider profession of chaplaincy rather than any particular organization. Participants in the work group included Leonard Blank, Heather Bumstead, Dale Carr, Scott Cartwright, Peter Yuichi Clark, John Fureman, Robbye Jarrell, Donald Koepke, Mark LaRocca-Pitts, Michele Micklewright, Margaret Muncie, Jon Overvold, Jackie Ward, David Wentroble, and Josh Zlochower.

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Standards of Practice for Professional Chaplains in Hospice and Palliative Care

Following the release of Standards of Practice for Professional Chaplains in Acute Care, and in Long-term Care, the Quality in Chaplaincy Care Committee assembled a group of chaplains with experience and expertise in hospice/palliative care to work on Standards of Practice for Professional Chaplains in Hospice/Palliative Care.

This Standards of Practice for Professional Chaplains in Hospice and Palliative Care document is a fluid document that will change as health care chaplaincy continues to mature and as situations change.

The standards of practice were published for comment in APC e-News, November 2013, Vol. 15 No. 7. Initial feedback was integrated into the standards, which were presented to the APC board for affirmation in June 2014. The standards were then forwarded to the boards of our organizational partners with the request that they join us in affirming and supporting them.

Your ongoing participation and feedback are welcome, as the standards of practice are not static but will be adjusted as the profession moves forward. Chaplains and others can are invited to share feedback and experiences by e-mail at sop@professionalchaplains.org.

Many thanks to the participants in the task force, who include: Chair Karen Ballard, Ahmed Aquino, Miriam Dakin, Bonnie Meyer, Denise Hess, Sue Nebel, Terry Irish and Staff Liaison Carol Pape.


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What About Other Chaplaincy Settings?

The APC Quality in Chaplaincy Care Committee welcomes and encourages chaplains serving in contexts other than acute care, long-term care or hospice to utilize and adapt these standards for their own contexts. Contact
Rev. Dr. Daniel H. Grossoehme, committee chair, sop@professionalchaplains.org.


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What's Next?
  • Ongoing education and dialogue about the Standards of Practice for Professional Chaplains are underway. Look for more articles and updates in APC Forum: news and ideas in chaplaincy care (formerly APC e-News) and on this webpage.
  • Task forces for the various specialty areas (acute care, long-term care, hospice and palliative care, etc.) will be created to develop context-specific materials that will be compiled in an appendix(es) to the official integrated Standards of Practice for Professional Chaplains.

 

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SOP Articles, Education and Resources

The APC webinar: "A Day in the Life of a Professional Chaplain: Incorporating Standards of Practice into Your Practice," was presented by Brent Peery BCC and Mark LaRocca-Pitts BCC on November 30, 2010. A recording of this Webinar is available in the  APC store.

Article: "Engaging Standards of Practice: Becoming More Professional" by Brent Peery BCC, December 2010 APC e-News.

A special plenary session, "The Case for Standards of Practice: Do Professional Chaplains Practice What They Preach?," was presented at the 2010 APC Annual Conference by Rev. George Handzo BCC and Rev. Paul Derrickson BCC. APC is proud to provide a free viewing of the video via the link above.

The summer 2010 issue of Healing Spirit magazine included a case study article about a health care institution's use of the standards in strategic planning:  "Putting Standards into Practice," by Daniel H. Grossoehme BCC and William Scrivener BCC.

Russell Dicks Article on Standards of Practice

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Russell Dicks Article on Standards of Practice

In 1940, the Reverend Russell L. Dicks worked with a small committee to prepare a set of standards of practice for hospital chaplains, which were adopted by the American Protestant Hospital Association. Below is the introduction to his article on the subject in which he discusses the need for standards of practice, as well as a link to the complete article.

"Standards for the Work of the Chaplain in the General Hospital by Rev. Russell Dicks DO," reprinted, with permission, from Hospitals, November, 1940.

"It has come to the attention of the American Protestant Hospital Association that the spiritual needs of many patients, both in private and public institutions, are not receiving proper attention. In some instances patients are not receiving any spiritual care, in others they are receiving altogether too much. We know of institutions where as many as seven or eight different religious workers may speak to the same patient in a given afternoon while hundreds of other patients in the same institution receive no attention. It has also come to our attention that many religious workers in hospitals attempt to force their own religious views upon the patient whether he desires them or not.

"It is our hope that through the following suggestions hospital administrators, board of directors, medical staffs and church authorities will be aided in judging the nature of the religious work going on within their institutions and further, that they may be aided in securing a more adequate type of chaplaincy service.

"It is not our thought that all the suggested standards which follow shall be considered minimum standards but that they shall present a goal toward which the institution and the chaplain shall aim in serving the religious needs of their patients. However, there are certain practices which we consider indispensable in the chaplain's work; where such practices are not being followed we suggest that serious attention be given to an investigation of why they are not by someone in authority."

Read the complete Russell Dicks article





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