New project announced

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August 21, 2023

Mainstreaming Spiritual Care

A Groundbreaking Project Pioneering Holistic Well-being in Healthcare

[Waltham, Mass.] – The Chaplaincy Innovation Lab, in partnership with Virginia Commonwealth University College of Health Professions and VCU Health, is proud to announce the launch of “Mainstreaming Spiritual Care in Healthcare Organizations.” Funded by the John Templeton Foundation, this project will combine empirical research and stakeholder experience to more effectively integrate spiritual care into healthcare settings. This is a milestone for healthcare systems, because the work will build and strengthen partnerships between executive leadership and spiritual care units to more effectively leverage and deploy chaplaincy for the betterment of care delivery for patients, families, and staff.

Spiritual care is a critical, but often underutilized, health system resource. Our work will enable healthcare institutions to leverage chaplains’ training and experience to alleviate challenges faced by staff; demonstrate greater institutional commitment to the overall patient experience; and help institutions be better decision-making partners with families and caregivers.

This project will bring together chaplaincy researchers, health services researchers, and health systems administrators to identify strategies and practices vital for spiritual care provision in healthcare. The collaboration, led by Wendy Cadge (Chaplaincy Innovation Lab) and Kelsey White (Department of Patient Counseling, VCU), with collaboration from Laura McClelland (Department of Health Administration, VCU), Rev. Marilyn Barnes (Director of Spiritual Care, VCU Health), and Dr. Ron Clark (VCU Health), will allow a diverse group of healthcare administrators and chaplaincy leaders to review best practices for integrating spiritual care in healthcare organizations and begin to mainstream spiritual care in healthcare organizations. It will convene an Advisory Committee of eight chaplains and healthcare administrators; write a white paper with the best empirical research on spiritual care in healthcare; and draft a request for proposals from teams of chaplains, clinical leaders, and healthcare administrators for projects to mainstream spiritual care in their own institutions.

“We are excited to launch this program and grateful to the John Templeton Foundation for its support,” said Wendy Cadge, Director of the Chaplaincy Innovation Lab and the project’s lead at Brandeis University. “As the COVID pandemic made very clear, the work of chaplains in healthcare is vital and invaluable. This project will help healthcare institutions better integrate spiritual care and the professional expertise of chaplains into patient care.”

Reverend Marilyn JD Barnes, Rev. Robert B. Lantz Chair of the Department of Patient Counseling at Virginia Commonwealth University College of Health Professions, Director of Spiritual Care at VCU Medical Center, said “We are proud to partner with the Chaplaincy Innovation Lab on a vital project that will take advantage of VCU Health’s deep commitment to interdisciplinary partnerships and restoration of health for all people – including their spiritual health, no matter their backgrounds or beliefs.”

Over the course of the project, the team will produce a series of webinars, eBooks and other educational materials. These free and public resources will make available spiritual care interventions, the basics of spiritual care in healthcare, and strategies for chaplains to work more effectively with institutional leadership.

About Chaplaincy Innovation Lab
The Chaplaincy Innovation Lab (CIL) brings 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. Our work is shaped by four central commitments maintained by all who are connected to CIL: all are welcome; we respect differences; we value learning together; and we are research-driven.

About Virginia Commonwealth University College of Health Professions
The mission of the College of Health Professions is to create influential leaders in health care who embrace equity and model excellence through inclusive teaching and learning, thoughtful advancement of cross-cultural knowledge, meaningful service to others, innovative technologies, and scientific discoveries that promote health and health equity and eliminate health disparities. The vision of the College of Health Professions is academic excellence that is accessible, equitable, and of exceptional value.

About John Templeton Foundation
Founded in 1987, the John Templeton Foundation supports research and catalyzes conversations that inspire people with awe and wonder. We fund work on subjects ranging from black holes and evolution to creativity, forgiveness, and free will. We also encourage civil, informed dialogue among scientists, philosophers, theologians, and the public at large. Our aspiration is to help people create lives of meaning and purpose and to become a global catalyst for discoveries that contribute to human flourishing.

With an endowment of $3.9 billion and annual giving of approximately $140 million, the Foundation ranks among the 25 largest grantmaking foundations in the United States. Headquartered outside Philadelphia, our philanthropic activities have engaged all major faith traditions and extended to more than 58 countries around the world.

Media Contact:
Michael Skaggs
Director of Programs
Chaplaincy Innovation Lab
Phone: (781) 736-4399