Chaplaincy Competencies and Standards
The range of standards and competencies can cause confusion. It helps to understand why the different versions exist, to know which to use.
Why are there several different sets of Competencies and Standards?
The AHPCC pioneered professional standards for hospice / palliative care chaplains in 2003 (revised in 2006), and then developed a set of spiritual and religious care competencies in partnership with Marie Curie Cancer Care in 2004, outlining what would be expected of anyone working in palliative care.
In 2007, NHS Scotland adapted the AHPCC standards to serve hospital chaplaincy departments rather than individual chaplains, and produced a matching set of competencies for chaplains only, but working in all areas of healthcare.
In 2009, the UKBHC (UK Board of Healthcare Chaplaincy) adopted both the standards and competencies from NHS Scotland.
In 2010, NHS Wales also adapted the NHS Scotland standards and competencies, altering some of the terminology to conform to more general healthcare standards.
How do the Competences and Standards relate to each other?
Each set of Standards addresses the nature and quality of the service that a chaplain or chaplaincy department should provide, while the Competencies relate to the individual chaplain’s role and ability to provide thse services. Each section of the Competencies sets out which Standards it applies to.
Which Competencies should I use?
The NHS Scotland, UKBHC and NHS Wales competencies are very similar, and are designed for chaplains, while the Marie Curie Competencies apply to the wider multi-disciplinary team.
Marie Curie (2004) Competencies in Specialist Palliative Care
Marie Curie (2004) Competencies Audit Tool
NHS Scotland (2007) Competencies for Chaplains
UKBHC (2010) Competencies for Chaplains
NHS Wales (2010) Guidance on Competencies for Spiritual Carers
Which Standards should I use?
The AHPCC standards remain relevant for hospice/palliative care chaplains anywhere in the UK, as they are geared specifically to hospice/palliative care. The other versions are designed for hospital use, with a chaplaincy department, and leave out the original Section 3 on multidisciplinary team-work.
However, other versions may also apply to you if you work in Scotland or Wales, or are registered with the UKBHC. As many hospice chaplains are single workers, often part-time, you may need to agree with your line manager the applicability of aspects that assume a chaplaincy department.
Because all versions derive from the AHPCC original, most of the content and wording is common to them all.
AHPCC (2006) Standards
AHPCC (2006) Standards – Self-assessment tool (docx)
AHPCC (2006) Standards – Self-assessment tool (pdf)
NHS Scotland Standards and self-assessment tool 2007
NHS Wales Standards 2010
UKBHC Standards 2009
UKBHC Standards 2009 – Self-assessment tool
The UKBHC Code of Conduct
The UKBHC Code of Conduct is based on the AHPCC’s original 2005 version and is now endorsed by all the UK chaplaincy associations. It sets out the professional standards of conduct expected of chaplains; it complements employers’ policies and rules that apply to all staff.
The Code describes the relationship of chaplains to those in their care. Chaplains have a duty of care towards staff, volunteers, patients and their visitors, and other members of the public who have relevant business with the health body.
The UKBHC Code of Conduct 2010, revised 2014