Averil Stedeford (2017) The Long Way Down: Poems of Grief and Hope

Averil Stedeford was a GP while her children were small and subsequently trained as a psychiatrist and psychotherapist. She worked for twelve years in Sir Michael Sobell House Hospice in Oxford as a therapist and teacher of palliative care to a range of professional staff. Soon after she left the hospice, her husband was found to have inoperable cancer.
Her previous publications are ‘Facing Death: patients, families and professionals’ (1984 &1994) and ‘Ellipse and other poems’ (1990).  In ‘The Long Way Down’, Averil uses twenty-eight poems to share the experience of living with her husband during his illness and her journey of bereavement.  Averil ends with nine general poems written while working at Sir Michael Sobell House.
All profits from the sale of this book go towards hospice, cancer and bereavement charities.
It is a brave soul who writes about death and dying and a courageous one who does so in poetry, for honest poetry can really get under the skin. Averil’s poems are very human expressions and personal in a way that will move many…

   I put up the lights as you did
   the holly wreath on the door
   I potted the tree as you did.
   This year it hurts more.   (from ‘Second Christmas’)

One senses something of the release that writing poetry brought her…

   Suddenly or slowly
   with struggle or ease,
   the door opens.   (from ‘Dying’)

and what she has leart, albeit painfully,

   I kept quiet. Four years on
   I still wish I had shouted
   so I’m doing it now.   (from ‘A Shout’)

Averil’s professional perspective brings futher colour and insight to the whole,

   I listened, found a pen, began to draw
   two circles. These are you and John
   when you first met. Life and love
   moulded you to fit against each other.   (from ‘The Red Hat’)

This volume does not preach, thankfully, nor does it say how it will or shall be in dying and grief. As such it offers no specific message of hope other than one that says I am human and this is how it was and is. Though written from a spiritual perspective, belief is only one of the many facets Averil uses express that there is something more, beyond,

   Their fear has gone.   (from ‘Dying Twice’)

I would recommend this book to all who find themselves in any way in the long way down through dying and grieving.

Review by David Buck, Sue Ryder – Wheatfields Hospice, Leeds
Averil Stedeford (2017) The Long Way Down, Aspect Design, Malvern. Price £6.00

Supporting Families with Sick Children

Supporting Families with Sick Children
Birmingham Children’s Hospital Chaplaincy have just published a booklet for churches/pastoral care teams on Supporting Families with Sick Children by Revd Rachel Hill-Brown
This booklet explores some of the challenges for church ministers and pastoral teams of supporting families through having a child with a serious illness or disability. It includes theological issues which may arise, and offers examples, principles of good practice, practical ideas and creative ways of helping families, the wider community and schools as they journey through the ups and downs, joys and tribulations associated with this situation.

Please email rbr@bch.nhs.uk to order a copy price: £5.00

Hospital Chaplaincy in the Twenty-First Century: The Crisis of Spiritual Care on the NHS

Hospital Chaplaincy in the Twenty-First Century: The Crisis of Spiritual Care on the NHS
Author(s): Christopher Swift, Revd Jeff Astley, Revd Canon Leslie J. Francis
ISBN-13: 9781472410511 Published 2014

The place of religion in public life continues to be a much-debated topic in Western nations. This book charts the changing role of hospital chaplains and examines through detailed case studies the realities of practice and the political debates which either threaten or sustain the service. This second edition includes a new introduction and updated material throughout to present fresh insights and research about chaplaincy, including in relation to New Atheism and the developing debate about secularism and religion in public life. Swift concludes that chaplains must do more to communicate the value of what they bring to the bedside.


Multifaith Care for Sick and Dying Children and their Families: A Multidisciplinary Guide

Multifaith Care for Sick and Dying Children and their Families: A Multidisciplinary Guide
Paul Nash, Madeleine Parkes and Zamir Hussain
ISBN: 978-1-84905-606-9 Published 2015

What do you need to know in order to provide the best possible care for sick children of different faiths? What, in the context of the young person’s faith, might it be helpful to know to support the child and the family, improve care, communicate sensitively and avoid causing offence?
Drawing on extensive, evidence-based research and practice, this practical resource addresses the multi-faith needs of sick and dying children and young people in hospitals and the wider community. Covering Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism, Judaism and Buddhism, it provides the key information needed to help multi-disciplinary healthcare staff offer the best, culturally-appropriate care to sick children and their families. The book discusses daily, palliative, end of life and bereavement care in a range of settings, including hospitals, hospices, schools and home. The information provided covers those aspects of the religions discussed that are essential for healthcare staff to understand, including modesty and hygiene, taboos, food and prohibited products, age-related issues, sacred objects, visitors, and the expectations of the family. It includes important information on the issues of disability and mental health in each faith as well as addressing the significance within different faith traditions of the transitions from childhood to adolescence to adulthood.
A comprehensive resource that uniquely focuses on the care needs of sick children from different faiths, this book will be of immeasurable value to multi-disciplinary healthcare professionals including doctors, nurses, bereavement support and palliative care workers, carers, counsellors, chaplains and arts therapists


Spiritual Care in Practice: Case Studies in Healthcare Chaplaincy

Spiritual Care in Practice: Case Studies in Healthcare Chaplaincy
Edited by George Fitchett and Steve Nolan
ISBN: 978-1-84905-976-3 Published 2015

These diverse case studies make a compelling case for the importance of effective spiritual care in healthcare and provide unprecedented insight into the essential role of the chaplain within the healthcare team. Presented alongside critical reflections and responses from professionals within chaplaincy, psychology, psychiatry and nursing, they provide an honest and detailed look into how healthcare chaplains actually work with the people in their care and reveal the vital role of narrative and imagination in effective transformative practice.
From a 16-year-old with a belief that God would enable a miraculous recovery from paralysis, to an African man with a history of psychosis and depression whose cultural belief in witches complicated his treatment, to a dying Jewish man, aggressive and isolated due to his traumatic life experiences, each case includes insight into the patient’s needs and chaplain’s perspectives, discussion of spiritual assessments and spiritual care interventions, and accounts of significant encounters and dialogues.
The nine paediatric, psychiatric and palliative case studies and reflections in this ground-breaking book will enable chaplains to critically reflect on the spiritual care they provide and communicate their work more effectively, help healthcare professionals develop a clearer understanding of the care chaplains deliver, and provide an informed perspective for those who develop policy around spiritual care and need to make the case for chaplaincy services.


Spiritual Care with Sick Children and Young People

Spiritual Care with Sick Children and Young People: A handbook for chaplains, paediatric health professionals, arts therapists and youth workers
Paul Nash, Kathryn Darby and Sally Nash
ISBN: 978-1-84905-389-1 Published 2015

Exploring both principles and best practice of the spiritual care of sick children and young people, this remarkable and inspiring book equips the reader to think critically and creatively about how to provide care in hospitals, hospices and other care contexts for ill and disabled children.
Written for staff from any allied health discipline, the authors explore the potential spiritual needs and issues faced by sick children and young people. They provide evidence-based practice principles, and a range of activity-based interactions that empower the child or young person and expand discussion of meaning and identity. The book includes stories and multidisciplinary practice examples, as well as many ideas; practical activities; discussion of work with families, and also of the various tensions and issues that can emerge.
Based on evidence-based practice and research carried out by the Chaplaincy Team at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, the book will be helpful and inspiring reading for chaplains, nurses, play and youth workers, therapists and anyone else involved in the care of sick children and young people.


Understanding Muslim Chaplaincy

Understanding Muslim Chaplaincy
Author(s): Ali Khan Mansur, Sophie Gilliat-Ray, Stephen Pattison
ISBN-13:9781409435938 Published 2013

Understanding Muslim Chaplaincy provides a lens through which to explore critical questions relating to contemporary religion in public life, and the institutionalisation of Islam in particular. Providing a rich description of the personnel, practice, and politics of contemporary Muslim chaplaincy, the authors consider the extent to which Muslim chaplaincy might be distinctive in Britain relative to the work of Muslim chaplains in the USA and other countries. This book will make a major contribution to international debate about the place of religion in public life and institutions. This book derives from research that has depended on exclusive access to a wide range of public institutions and personnel who largely work ‘behind closed doors’. By making public the work of these chaplains and critically examining the impact of their work within and beyond their institutions, this book offers a ground-breaking study in the field of contemporary religion that will stimulate discussion for many years to come about Islam and Muslims in Western societies.