Bendigo pastoral services recognised

St John of God Bendigo Hospital’s Pastoral Services team has won a Catholic Health Australia Award for their support for women and families experiencing early pregnancy loss.

2 Sep 2022

Pastoral Services team at Catholic Health Australia confernce with award

The team won the Excellence in Pastoral Care category at the awards held in August, for their efforts to improve how caregivers respond to the emotional and spiritual needs of women and families during this time.

The team’s efforts has resulted in 90 per cent of women receiving pastoral services support which is an increase from 50 per cent before the team focused on this area of need. 

“Over three or four years we had noticed that there was a gap in the spiritual and emotional support provided to women and families experiencing miscarriage, or early pregnancy loss,” Pastoral Practitioner Lynda Wyles said.

“This was a strategic focus across the organisation, but we realised we needed a targeted strategy and approach.

“We started having conversations with nurse unit managers and associate nurse unit managers across all areas in our hospital where they might be caring for women experiencing early pregnancy loss, this ranged from maternity to theatres.”

This engagement led to the realisation that caregivers were not referring women to pastoral services for care.

“Education was integral to improving this, especially for the clinical staff to understand what pastoral care has to offer in this space.  As pastoral practitioners we have specialised skills and training in this area to support women and families,” Lynda said.

“We worked collaboratively with our clinical caregivers to offer holistic care, so that clinical care and emotional and spiritual support go hand-in-hand.”

Lynda said this led to caregivers feeling more comfortable and confident in their capacity to work alongside pastoral services, having a better understanding of their scope of work.

Pastoral Services is working with the hospital’s learning and development team to create online learning for all caregivers.

St John of God Bendigo Hospital CEO Michael Hogan congratulated the hospital’s pastoral services team for ensuring families received compassionate support at an incredibly challenging time.

“I’m so proud of all of our caregivers who, thanks to the dedication of our pastoral services team, are now able to respond with compassion and confidence to support families who are experiencing pregnancy loss,” he said.

“We know that it is a very isolating time for families, many of who may not have even shared their pregnancy with others, so the importance of our caregivers providing spiritual and emotional support, as well as information, cannot be understated.” 

The Catholic Health Australia Excellence in Pastoral Care Award honours an individual, team or initiative that contributes in an innovative way to the integrity and effectiveness of the Catholic ministry of health and aged care through a particular project, program, strategy, or outstanding effort that enhances pastoral care for patients and staff.