The Interchurch Council for Hospital Chaplaincy (ICHC) (Registered Charity Number CC21346) has, since a decision of the NZ Government (Cabinet decision CM 72/9/14 of 6 March 1972), been the national provider of hospital chaplaincy services in New Zealand under a shared funding arrangement between the Government's Health Department / Ministry and the Churches. The Government wished to deal with only one body on behalf of the Churches. As a result the Interchurch Council for Hospital Chaplaincy, Aotearoa, New Zealand, Charitable Trust Inc. is the national chaplaincy body of nine Churches involved in the provision of a professional healthcare chaplaincy service.
The nine churches are: Anglican, ACTS Churches New Zealand, Baptist, Catholic, Christian Churches New Zealand, Congregational, Methodist, Presbyterian and Salvation Army. Chaplains are sometimes appointed from other Christian denominations as it is policy to appoint the best applicant to a position.
The Place of Spiritual Care
Spiritual well-being is a fundamental right under the UN Declaration of Human Rights. This has been recognised under the Health and Disabilities (Safety) Act 2001 under which New Zealand healthcare standards for the accreditation of hospitals are set. These provide for patients to have access to the spiritual care of their choice and have their cultural and spiritual beliefs and practices upheld, in particular those regarding death and dying. These standards became mandatory from 1 October 2004.
The presence of ecumenical and Catholic hospital chaplains (and chaplaincy assistants under supervision of a chaplain) enables this standard for hospital accreditation to be met.
Access to chaplaincy services and exit
from the service is by way of:
The chaplain also has an important role in the spiritual support of Hospital staff and their family (NZ Health Standards 2.4 & 6.3.8) for those who wish to avail themselves of it.
The Hospital Chaplain is an important member of the multi-disciplinary care team and the spiritual support offered is an important contribution to the holistic model of care New Zealand's Health Services are seeking to provide.
Under no circumstances will a chaplain or chaplaincy assistant attempt to provide services to any person who indicates they do not wish to receive such service, or who indicates they have a preference for spiritual care or ministry to be provided by some other person or organisation. Chaplains will, on request, assist in locating a patient's own spiritual adviser or any member of their faith they wish to see.
Complaints or Incident Reports lodged by individuals or with Hospitals, about chaplains or the chaplaincy service are referred to the Executive Officer, ICHC for investigation.
The Chaplain's Role
ICHC and the Ministry of Health have agreed that the chaplain's role is to address the spiritual, emotional and pastoral needs of patients particularly where their illness has presented a major threat or trauma (spiritually and emotionally) and which may render patients and/or their whanau/family vulnerable.