All our hospital visitors do this work as volunteers. The situation with chaplains varies from hospital to hospital. Some chaplains are paid, others are volunteers.
We always welcome people who would like to spend some of their time visiting Jewish patients in hospital. You need to be able to make a regular commitment to visiting of at least 3 hours per month (although some hospitals will require more frequent visiting). Most hospitals require their volunteers to be at least 16 or 17 years of age. The skills you will need include an ability to communicate well with patients and staff, to listen, to show empathy, to be non-judgemental and to be reliable and trustworthy. Jewish Visiting is cross-communal so you may be visiting patients who have very different Jewish values to your own, so you need to be sensitive to the needs of the patient, enlisting outside support when necessary.
For volunteers, visiting offers the opportunity to “give something back” to the community. It can also be useful for young people at the start of their careers as it is valued by employers and is a useful addition to the CV. Many volunteers would say that the personal satisfaction they get out of visiting far outweighs the benefit to the patients i.e. we benefit as well as the people we help.
If you would like to become a visitor or a chaplain, you will need to complete an application form. We would then meet with you to talk about your experience, both in the workplace and in a voluntary capacity and why you want to be a visitor or chaplain and where you would want to visit. This is an opportunity for both you and ourselves to decide whether this is an appropriate role for you.
We can then refer you to the specific hospital, who are likely to have their own application process. You will also be required by any hospital to complete a Disclosure Barring Service (DBS) form so they can check if you have a criminal record.
Some training is provided by Jewish Visiting and other training will be provided by the hospital where you are working.
A chaplain is part of the spiritual health care or chaplaincy team which provides for the pastoral, spiritual, ethical, cultural and religious needs of patients, their families, staff and visitors. They generally (but not always) have rabbinic training and their role is to be the religious lead of their own faith community. Chaplains will act as an advocate for staff and patients and visitors from their own religious and cultural group and will advise on all spiritual aspects of bereavement. They are appointed by specific hospitals, but have to be endorsed by their faith community as an appropriate person to perform this role. Most chaplains provide an out of hours service to support patients in emergency or life and death situations. Chaplains often both provide information/training sessions for staff on meeting the needs of the Jewish patient as well as leading on activities for patients and staff to mark the Jewish festivals.
A visitor may also be part of the spiritual health care or chaplaincy team and they also aim to meet the spiritual, ethical, cultural and religious needs primarily of patients, but also of patients’ families and staff. Visitors are generally lay members of the community. To be an accredited Jewish Visitor, visitors also have to be endorsed by Jewish Visiting as well as the specific hospital in which they work. All visitors are there on a voluntary basis only. They generally visit on a set day each week or month.
Both chaplains and visitors may advocate on behalf of Jewish patients when required and give them information on support available outside the hospital, where appropriate.
Current vacancies that we have been notified about include:
If you wish to apply to be a volunteer or chaplain, please print off the application and send the completed form to Jewish Visiting, c/o 305 Ballards Lane, Finchley, London N12 8GB
To download an application form to be a hospital visitor click here.
To download an application form to be a hospital chaplain click here.