On Tuesday, 25 July at 1 p.m., healthcare professionals, chaplains and members of the public gathered in Weston Hospicecare’s Wellbeing Centre as part of a book launch. Attendees enjoyed light refreshments and participated in a Q&A session about the role that spiritual care plays in the hospice sector.

‘At Weston Hospicecare, as with so many hospices around the country, we pride ourselves on being able to offer 360° care that meets the social, emotional, psychological, spiritual and physical care of our patients and their loved ones,’ said Karen Murphy, chaplain at Weston Hospicecare. ‘We know that death is often a very sensitive and challenging topic for people to discuss, even within the medical fields, so we are always looking at ways we can help open up that conversation and encourage people to ask these important questions.’

The session is part of the book launch for Chaplaincy in Hospice and Palliative Care, which was co-edited by Karen Murphy and Bob Whorton. The book thoughtfully tackles the question at the heart of modern chaplaincy: Do chaplains have a distinctive role in an increasingly secular society?

‘What we want people to understand and discuss is the notion that spiritual care doesn’t necessarily mean religious care,’ Karen said. ‘Although we can answer and discuss religious topics, we often spend most of our time talking to patients and loved ones about the big questions that we all have, regardless of our beliefs, such as ‘What has my life been about?’, ‘What is the purpose of life?’ and so on.’

Hospice chaplains have traditionally played a unique part in palliative care, providing human compassion and support to help ease life’s final chapter. The book offers a comprehensive look at why and how this work needs to be done; each chapter will be a rich resource for hospice chaplains and anyone working within a hospice multi-disciplinary team. Taking the form of conversations between chaplains, professionals, patients and carers, the chapters examine the tension between sacred and secular space, explore how spiritual care works in a changing society, and look at what voice a chaplain has within the hospice team.

‘Bob and I saw this book as a sort of patchwork quilt that weaves together all sorts of different viewpoints and perspectives,’ said Karen. ‘Whether you look after someone in a hospice setting, interact with palliative care teams or have a life-limiting illnesses yourself, we hope you’ll come along to the Q&A session to enjoy a great discussion about spiritual roles within hospice care.’

The book, which is being published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers, the book can be purchased from a variety of booksellers and online retailers for £18.99.


  • Chaplain Karen Murphy also hopes to fund a new sound system for the hospice chapel using a portion of the proceeds from the book. The chapel, which is located at Jackson-Barstow House in Uphill, includes many features for people of all faiths and of none. One such feature is the sound system, which can often be heard playing uplifting or soothing music for those at the hospice. The sound system is also sometimes used to provide music for therapy sessions, such as our expressive movement therapy sessions.
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