Monthly Archives: May 2013

Critical Care Unit: Thanks in Distressing Times

intensive care

I have only experience Critical Care from the vantage point of a Chaplain. I can’t begin to imagine what it is like when your loved one is wired up to all the machinery in a state of lowered consciousness with ventilators and tubes and state of the art monitoring equipment. It must be overwhelming and frightening. Below is a portion of a lengthy reflection sent to me by one relative, whose wife was in CCU, and whose life at that point interweaved with mine. It shows the compassion of the staff, the attention to detail, the medical expertise and the overwhelming care which the patient and family recieved. I hope this is every patient’s and family’s experience throughout the Trust.

“Dear David, I saw your blog and thought that I must put pen to paper and write of my experience on the Critical Care Unit at the Royal a couple of months ago when we also met. I can’t say how grateful I am to the staff. Needless to say my wife (N) was very poorly and was wired up to all sorts of machinery which I had never seen in my life. She was unconscious and we didn’t know which way was up.

We are not religious people- but we are spiritual. And you and the staff catered to our emotional and spiritual needs. We are very grateful to you for the time you spent listening to us in the dark hours of the night and the way in which you led us in thoughts and prayeers for (N). We too thought she was entering into another journey and that way of talking about it help us immensely.

My children and I were also immensely grateful to Dr. Hoze. We are not a stupid family, and he didn’t treat us as if we were. He explained everything clearly, listened to our comments, answered our questions. It was as if he was thinking through the situation with us and helping us to understand the decisions that we reached.

The nursing staff were truly attentive. They met N’s needs with dignity and professionalism. They spoke to her and encouraged us to do the same. It was inspiring and heartbreaking at the same time.

When it came to the end David, we are so glad that you were with us. The words that you said and the silence that you kept with us were a real comfort. We felt that N and ourselves were unique. No one took her passing lightly and we were so grateful to be there with her when she left us.

Now it is still heartbreaking. I miss her terribly. After 43 years of marriage there is a huge gap in my life. But the care, compassion, dignity and love which the hospital gave to my wife in our darkest time has helped. I hope others are never in the situation we were in but if they are I am sure that they too will take comfort from the same level of care which we were shown. Thank you seems inadequate. But thank you.”

Macmillan Volunteers: A WIN-WIN


There must be more that 400 volunteers across the Trust. Imagine the person hours invested in the Trust for FREE! And it is not just a one way street. The Volunteers give of their time- and they recieve great satisfaction for a job well done. Here are the comments of a Macmillan Information Pod Volunteer who has moved onto something else.

I just wanted to say how much I’ve enjoyed working with ange at the redditch pod over the last two years. It’s been a real education and you offer a much needed service and do a wonderful job. I wish macmillan all the best for the future . Keep up the good work.

If you want to use your time in a way which benefits others and yourself then think about giving some time to the hospital. There are as many varied roles as you can think of, and we can make more. Drop me a line and I will point you in the right direction.

And if you are a member of paid staff, then do remember to show you appreciation for the Volunteers you come across.

Worcester Councillor Jabba Riaz speaks of care and compassion on AMU


Councillor Jabba Riaz represents Cathedral Ward. He is a friend of Worcestershire Royal Hospital, reads this blog via Twitter (@jabbariaz) and is a fellow blogger:

Late this week he found himself in hospital for a family sadness and yet took time to write to thank Acute Medical Unit for their care. He has given permission for me to post his letter on my blog and in a personal email to me he said: “I am only too glad to highlight the brilliant service that the hospital provide amid the masses of hysteria causing negative articles that the tabloids are only too eager to display.” I hope you are as grateful to him as I, as you read what he has to say.

Dear Sister Mellody,

I would like to take the opportunity to personally thank you for the support and help that your team so kindly bestowed upon our family through our difficult period. I am grateful for the detail to attention and consideration shown by your team in attending to my Aunt Zainab Bibi (room 21) who passed away on Sat 25th May.

We are grateful as a family & community that such compassion, caring team exist within the AMU and would like to make a small donation to assist with good work that you do. I hope that this can strengthen the bond & increase understanding between our cultures/religious requirements when it comes to health care requirements.

Kind Regards,

Cllr Jabba Riaz

Cathedral Ward Worcester

A Chaplain’s Life: 4:48am Saturday Morning – It’s what I do

David Southall

It is 4:48am when the phone goes off. I must change that ring tone. A phone call from Switchboard asking me to come to one of our hospitals. I don’t know what you are like at that time in the morning but I remember my own name just about. “David Southall” I say, and then they put me through to a Staff Nurse. A patient is reaching the end of his journey, can I come in.

I get things together and within half an hour I am here. I realise in my haste that I have forgotton my uniform. No dog collar to show I’m the religious bloke. Just a t-shirt and jumper. Cursing my stupidity I head up to the ward.

And there he is. Surrounded by family. My non-uniform fades into a memory in the face of this man and his family.

He has had some sort of bleeding from his lungs and is now breating erratically and noisily. The family, like any would be, are in shock and distress; and tears are flowing. Wife, sons and daughters and partners, grandkids. All called in like me in the early hours; all waiting. Wondering what the future would hold.

This man and his wife are people of faith. They want some prayers; informal but meaningful. And so we pray together. Pray that God would help him and them. That he would be at peace. That those surrounding him with love might know some comfort and love. Words, however, seem meaningless at times like this.

I, like them (and the nursing staff I guess), feel helpless. Wishing I can do something to change the situation. Make it different. Less bad. But I can’t. No one can.

I stay and listen to the story of this man. Of his faith. I make cups of tea; serving them in the only practical way I know how. Assuring them of my prayers and thoughts, and that I am on call for the rest of the day (and to call me again if they wish), I leave them.

And now it’s 6:24am. I can go home whilst they are stil there, waiting and wondering. Maybe get a couple of hours sleep whilst they keep vigil. Life sucks at times. But at least I could be with them, human to human. The privilege of sharing a sacred space in the difficult situations with people I hadn’t known before.It’s what I do.

The most heartbreaking of times: A family’s thanks in heartache

The most heartbreaking of times: A family's thanks in heartache.



I know the Hospitals work 24/7 and weekdays and weekends mean little to some of us (I am on call this weekend) but it is still Friday. And the Hospital takes on a different complexion on Saturday and Sunday. So I thought I would end the week with posts to make us smile. Not funny, just good news of a job well done.

Patients are invited to feedback to the hospital on a form with a smiley face on it or a sad face. Here are three comments from Avon Unit. I don’t know the stories behind them; I don’t need to- only to celebrate that these patients were more than satisfied with thier experience.

🙂 This is a lovely ward (Avon 3). The staff are really nice and caring but professional! Thank you very much.

🙂 I am very pleased and impressed with all the staff that are looking after me. The work excellently as a team. They are very friendly and helpful even though they are overworked. I am considering writing to the Prime minister and letting him know about the fantastic work and team that work on Avon 3. Special thanks to Antonia (nurse) and Julie (HCA)

🙂 I was treated with every respect and all my needs, medical and personal, were met.

🙂 The level of care that has been extended to our mother has been faultless. All staff have been kind and respectful and have explained her medication clearly. We are grateful that a stressful time has been handled so well.

🙂 Very good! Everyone is so nice. Staff are wonderful.

Obviously, despite the media’s fixation with doom and gloom, staff are doing some things right! I wonder what tips would you give to your colleagues. Add your wisdom via a comment below on how you treat patients or how you would want to be treated.

I am sure that every ward has comments like these. Get your ward manager to send them to me and you could see the comments on your unit on the blog for all to see.

Thanks for your continued support. Over 8000 views now and it’s all down to you.

Oh and smile, not just because it’s Friday but because you do a great job 🙂

Sharing the Cloak: a Chaplaincy Volunteer speaks about her role


Sue Meredith is a chaplaincy volunteer. She comes in every week to visit patient and one regular Sundays to distribute Holy Communion. Here she speaks movingly of one encounter where she made a difference. Spiritual care at its finest. Oh and the word chaplain is derived from cloak- and the sharing of a cloak in the cold brings great comfort!

At Mid-day, on Sunday, 19th May 2013, the Special Day of Pentecost ~
( for those of you who’ve never heard of Pentecost, take a glimpse at the following light-hearted article on the following website )

~ in beautiful sunshine, I left Worcestershire Royal Hospital with an immense sense of inner peace, something very difficult to describe in real terms, especially when my tour of duty as a Volunteer Chaplain had finished after leaving the bedside of a poorly gentleman who had been overcome whilst he outpoured heart-breaking news of a family trauma, a tragic situation independent of his own medical condition.

We shared Holy Communion as I knelt on the floor by his bedside. No great public act of falling to my knees, simply a means of my being at the same height where the gentleman lay.
In place of the altar in a church building, a small, disposable, soft white tissue placed on the gentleman’s bed. Imprinted on the border of the tissue a lovely, sunny scene was depicted.

On top of this simple, disposable tissue ( which I used for a very practical reason in the name of infection control ), was placed a beautiful , small, contemporary style silver & gold crucifix : a personal gift to me by a dear friend who is not remotely religious, nor a churchgoer, nor connected in any way to any particular formal faith. Yet her love of giving to others in all she’s suffered and endured during the last two years, has been absolutely incredible in her successful battle against cancer at Worcestershire Royal Hospital. My friend’s courage, brightness & sense of humour radiates like sunshine ; and it’s her beautiful gift to me that is now bringing brightness and uplifting to others. Everyone who sees this beautiful little item admires it.

Sharing the ambience of a short, bedside Communion Service full of hope and re-assurance, with that wonderful gentleman on Sunday morning, from the window of his hospital side room , a glimpse of sky could be seen. Beautiful, bright blue intercepted by stunning white clouds amidst sunshine of a lovely May Spring Day, all unexpectedly endorsing the lovely scene on the tissue.

Without pre-planning or pre-determining any agenda before arriving at the hospital, I had no idea that I would visit this gentleman. Yet something had stirred in my heart to place a hand-made card in my bag before leaving home.

The card incorporated my own photo of a gorgeous beach on the tiny island of Eriskay in the Outer Hebrides with turquoise seas, bright blue sky, lovely, white clouds and silver sand … in part mirroring that stunning skyscape from the window in the gentleman’s hospital room, the skyscape which I pointed out to him as he lay in his bed ; and which brought him a new focus and a smile.

Words on the card quoted “The Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi”. It was indeed an intensely emotional moment as we both shared the photocard, speaking words of the prayer together. In the gentleman’s devastation of his family’s tragic circumstances, his voice faltered as tears flowed; and then tears filled my own eyes. Yet, in that sincere emotion, a calm and beauty beyond one’s comprehension filled the room as brightness broke through, echoing some of the words
“…. … where there is despair, HOPE.”

I offered for the gentleman to keep the bedside Communion Service sheet, together with the white tissue and photo card which he very kindly accepted. Inexpensive, humble items to focus on during his overwhelmingly difficult time.

He apologised to me for crying. I gently nudged his forearm and assured him that in his honesty to cry, there was no need for an apology because tears were a release button. I confirmed it was an honour to meet him ; and as I spoke, I began to stand up ready to take my leave, struggling every inch of the way to fight back my own tears. This kindly, and very courageous gentleman, accepted my offer to share with him comforting words in “The Grace” before I thanked him for receiving me. Then I thanked the staff at the Nurses Station on the ward for welcoming me and directing me to his room before departing to travel home to my own family.

As a Volunteer Chaplain, to witness the gentleman’s uplifting whilst, in return, receiving his genuine appreciation & gratitude of my visit, in all that he’s enduring, was better than gold-dust: absolutely priceless.

Chaplains are people who are happy to simply “share the cloak”. We can’t possibly put ourselves into another’s shoes. Each life is unique and different ~ everyone travels along an individual road. Yet, together we’re all stronger in sharing & caring.

I’m nothing special, merely an ordinary person with a longing: to be a presence in supporting the vital, professional work of doctors, nurses and associated colleagues.

That’s why being a Volunteer Hospital Chaplain is so precious in my own journey. It’s where I love to be: meeting people unexpectedly, wherever they are, whatever they believe, whatever their circumstances. Simply being there with them for a while.

My voluntary role comes under the directive of Rev. Dr. David Southall, author of this blog, so
if my experience stirs something in your own heart today, why not write to David, telephone him or even knock on his office door at the hospital? I do know he’d be delighted to meet you.