A whole year of spiritual care in times of crisis: Een jaar lang geestelijke verzorging bij crisis

Hanneke Muthert, Desi de Jonge, Christien den Draak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleProfessional


Until recently, disaster chaplaincy research lacked data collected during a crisis in the Netherlands. As of March 2020, however, we have been able to follow spiritual counselors in various fields of work through mixed methods on a modest scale. By repeatedly questioning what chaplains see and do at different points in time, what moral questions they identify and how they themselves receive support, a more detailed overview emerges. A good organizational embedding proves crucial. In addition, reflection and reorientation on the profession itself is necessary to be able to sustain the work in these challenging circumstances. More in detail:How do spiritual carers deal with this crisis? Within the space available to them, they constantly adapted to what was happening and what was possible. They applied their expertise to creative forms of human nearness, rituals, staff support and ethics. New activities included digital forms of contact, different kinds of care for staff members and dealing with physical distance. Alongside the initial fear and uncertainty, a wave of creativity became visible. Healthcare protocols gradually became available, but it also became clear that a long haul was required. Tiredness and work pressure led to some people dropping out and switching back, while others continued their care. We recognize this reaction pattern in other disasters (De Kraker-Zijlstra, Muthert, Zock & Walton, 2021). Four moral themes stood out. In addition to the tension between 'distance and nearness', these are 'risks of contamination for the other person, him/herself and the environment'; 'the human dimension in care under extreme conditions' and 'considerations regarding triage and vaccination'. Proper functioning in a disaster requires first of all adequate organizational embedding in advance. In addition, cooperation with other disciplines and own team members helps. Recognition and appreciation seem crucial. Creativity, flexibility and a proactive attitude are frequently mentioned by respondents; more reflective qualities seem to be equally in demand. Not every person has all that ready. Well-tuned support therefore takes account of these differences. Finally, the professional association is expected to provide good information and sometimes also personal support.
Translated title of the contributionA whole year of spiritual care in times of crisis
Original languageDutch
Pages (from-to)10-19
Number of pages10
JournalTijdschrift Geestelijke Verzorging
Issue number102
Publication statusPublished - 15-Jun-2021

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