Chaplaincy in the Royal Brisbane Hospitals. The genesis and evolution of hospital chaplaincy in a Queensland hospital complex.

John Pearn (2010). Chaplaincy in the Royal Brisbane Hospitals. The genesis and evolution of hospital chaplaincy in a Queensland hospital complex. MPhil Thesis, School of History, Philosophy, Religion & Classics, The University of Queensland.

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Author John Pearn
Thesis Title Chaplaincy in the Royal Brisbane Hospitals. The genesis and evolution of hospital chaplaincy in a Queensland hospital complex.
School, Centre or Institute School of History, Philosophy, Religion & Classics
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2010-11
Thesis type MPhil Thesis
Supervisor Professor Clive Moore
Dr Sally Wilde
Total pages 244
Total colour pages 3
Total black and white pages 241
Subjects 22 Philosophy and Religious Studies
Abstract/Summary CHAPLAINCY IN THE ROYAL BRISBANE HOSPITALS The genesis and evolution of hospital chaplaincy in a Queensland hospital complex John Hemsley Pearn A Thesis submitted as fulfilment for the Degree of Master of Philosophy School of History, Philosophy, Religion and Classics The University of Queensland June 2010 ABSTRACT This thesis is an account of the genesis and evolution of the developed discipline of hospital chaplaincy in the Herston Hospitals complex, Brisbane. This multihospital campus comprises the hospitals of the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital and the Royal Children’s Hospital and their predecessors. The Brisbane Hospital was founded in 1867 as a charity hospital. Since that time it has formed the epicentre of an extending healthcare campus where more than 300 chaplains have provided solace and sacraments, conducted rites and offered counsel to hundreds of thousands of inpatients. Their history and the history of hospital chaplaincy more generally has hitherto been unrecorded. This thesis documents the operational role and analyses the influences which have impinged on the development of hospital chaplaincy as a specialty discipline within a secular healthcare system. The central question addressed in this thesis is “What has been the shifting role and institutional position of hospital chaplaincy in a state-funded, avowedly secular, inpatient healthcare service in the twentieth century?” The unifying hypothesis tested in this thesis is that in spite of the tenet of secularity central to healthcare provision in a typical Australian state hospital, religious support in the form of hospital chaplaincy has been an important and evolving component of inpatient care. The research embodied in the thesis has indicated that hospital chaplaincy in the Herston Hospitals has passed through three distinct phases. Part I of this thesis describes the influences which operated from 1867 to 1924 –– the era between the foundation of the Brisbane Hospital at Herston and the imposition of government funding and control as a consequence of the Queensland Hospitals Act of 1923. Pastoral care, exclusively Christian in that era, was provided by visiting clergy, by visiting nuns (from both Church of England and Catholic orders) and by devout lay visitors, all drawn from the principal denominations which comprised the more general Queensland population. The second distinct era of hospital chaplaincy in the Herston Hospitals encompassed the period from 1924 to 1981. It began with the nationalisation of healthcare, imposed by consequential regulations which followed the Hospitals Act of 1923 and implemented by the formation of the Brisbane and South Coast Hospitals Board in 1924. It ended in 1981, the year in which the hospital chaplains themselves, hitherto independent and separate agents, established the Chaplaincy Department of the Royal Brisbane Hospitals complex. That era saw the emergence of a dedicated, onsite chaplaincy service. The first chaplain formally appointed to the Herston Hospitals was a Church of England chaplain who began his full-time hospital ministry in 1931. Other churches followed with the establishment of both full-time and part-time hospital chaplaincy appointments. This development was the genesis, not only within the ecclesiastical world, but also within the hospital world of specialist services, of the discipline of hospital chaplaincy as this specialty became known. Research on hospital chaplaincy in this period has indicated that chaplaincy endured, but did not develop beyond that of a visiting, sacramental or occasional pastoral role. By the end of that era, the Herston Hospitals had grown to comprise an extensive (almost 2,000 inpatients), avowedly secular, state hospital complex. Nominal rolls of the chaplains who served the Herston Hospitals have been compiled from primary sources and documented in the Appendices to this thesis. The third era of hospital chaplaincy, that encompassing the period from 1981 to the first decade of the twenty-first century, was a period of dramatic change. It saw both (a) the first identity and the rapid evolution of the specialised professional discipline of modern hospital chaplaincy; and (b) the modifying effects, indeed powerful imposts, of societal influences on the delivery of pastoral care in the Herston Hospitals. In Part II, the thesis describes influences which led to the genesis of the Hospital Chaplaincy Department (7 August 1981). This institution both reflected, and was itself to become influential in, the development of hospital chaplaincy as a recognised sub-specialty. From that base, chaplains at the Herston Hospitals were the catalysts for the establishment of the Ecumenical Hospital Chaplaincy Committee (from 1982) and the Multifaith Academy for Chaplaincy and Community Ministries (1993). In that era, the hospital chaplains themselves instituted the first specialty training which was to characterise the emergent discipline of modern hospital chaplaincy. This thesis argues that two features set the specialist profession of hospital chaplaincy apart from the general pastoral and sacramental work of ordained clergy in the general community. One of these was the particularly vulnerable and supplicant relationship of sick and injured inpatients, sometimes for the first time in their lives, with a chaplain. The second feature which came to define the specialty of hospital chaplaincy was the necessary acquisition of specialised knowledge of disease processes and healthcare which predicated a patient’s admission to hospital. Occasionally, chaplains became counsellors not only to patients but also to medical and nursing staff, in circumstances where a patient’s religious beliefs conflicted with medical treatment. In Part III, this thesis argues that (from 1981) three external influences imposed significant changes on both the organisational structure of hospital chaplaincy and on the professional role of chaplains themselves. These three influences comprised (a) the secular anti-discrimination movements of the last decades of the twentieth century, influences which followed some Faith-based trends towards a modified ecumenism; (b) the more general societal privacy movement of the last three decades of the twentieth century and its pragmatic consequences upon the preservation of inpatient confidentiality; and (c) the emergent discipline of bioethics and the widespread involvement of hospitalised patients in medical research. This thesis also documents and analyses a ‘sea-change’ of government attitude to the regulation of inpatient access to Faith-based pastoral care, introduced first in the Herston Hospitals in 1991 by Queensland Government regulations. Prior to 1991, Queensland Health (the State Government Department of Health) had taken no part and provided essentially no services for inpatient pastoral care. As formal state policy, it left this service exclusively to the discretion and will of external religious bodies and to devout members of the lay public. The first Hospital Chapel at the Royal Brisbane Hospital had not been constructed until 1976, more than a century after the Hospital had opened in 1867. Even at that late stage, the first chapel was made possible only by fundraising undertaken exclusively by volunteer members of the hospital staff and by the lay public. By contrast, in a major change of policy in 1991, Queensland Health responded to and embraced the secular movement of anti-discrimination and trends towards religious ecumenism. For the first time, the state acknowledged that the provision of chaplaincy services was integral to holistic inpatient healthcare. From that era, government regulation guaranteed the provision of services for and access to a pastoral carer of an inpatient’s choice. For the first time the state provided physical resources, specifically multi-Faith resources, to ensure this. This thesis argues that the historical evidence –– archival, documentary and oral –– indicates that a specialised hospital chaplaincy has evolved to be an ubiquitous component of healthcare, in secular as well as Faith-based hospitals. As such, hospital chaplaincy has developed to be a true professional sub-specialty which complements the other traditional specialties of the entire healthcare domain. ___
Keyword Hospital Chaplaincy;
Royal Brisbane Hospital complex, Brisbane
Medical History
Queensland History
Additional Notes Colour Pages Page 112 Page 126 Page 136

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Created: Tue, 23 Nov 2010, 10:26:24 EST by Prof John Pearn on behalf of Library - Information Access Service