Supportive Care Coalition
The NACC will be presenting the Outstanding Colleague Award to the Supportive Care Coalition for their efforts to change the climate of end of life care, not just for those being served but also for the professionals caring for them. Teaching skills that include but also transcend traditional medicine, the Supportive Care Coalition (SCC) has helped the entire care team to embrace new dimensions of self-care and spiritual awareness that eases the way for everyone on, or being served by, the team.
The Supportive Care Coalition has a strong national presence with 19 Catholic health care organizations dedicated to advancing excellence in palliative care. Founded in 1994, the Coalition promotes palliative care as a hallmark of Catholic healthcare, intrinsic to its healing mission. Palliative care embodies an enduring commitment to provide compassionate, high-quality, person-centered care for the seriously ill and their loved ones by anticipating, preventing, and relieving suffering.
In 2012, the Supportive Care Coalition began discussions with NACC leadership regarding chaplain specialty certification for palliative care and hospice. Many NACC chaplains had been called to serve on palliative care interdisciplinary teams, and many already worked in hospice settings. During the past three years the dialogue continued as SCC worked to strengthen the role of the chaplain as a core member of the interdisciplinary palliative care team while fostering and supporting the needed competencies and credentialing of chaplains in palliative care. Their executive director, Tina Picchi, MA, BCC collaborated with NACC in the planning, development and implementation of a specialty certification for hospice and palliative care.
The SCC Board of Directors is committed to partnering with NACC to advance spirituality in palliative care team practice and appointed several members of NACC to the SCC Spirituality Steering Committee which includes palliative care physicians, chaplains, social workers and mission leaders. This committee designed a national project to strengthen the presence of spiritual care in palliative care and deepen spiritual engagement with patients, families and the interdisciplinary palliative care team in the context of goals of care conversations.
SCC’s Spirituality in Goals of Care Project has elevated the role of the professional chaplain who serves as both mentor and role model for inter-professional team members, addressing spiritual suffering and drawing upon the spiritual strengths and resources of patients, families and colleagues to promote healing and provide whole person care. This two year project, including 20 palliative care programs from several Catholic health systems, has improved communication skills, strengthened inter-professional collaboration and self-assessment and promoted high quality advance care planning and goals of care conversations for persons living with serious illness.
The Supportive Care Coalition has shown each member of the care team that, although having a chaplain on the team is critical to the overall wellbeing of the patients, doctors and nurses can also provide critical and life-enhancing spiritual support to patients and their families. The Supportive Care Coalition is committed to caring for the whole person and has a passion for continuing to perfect the skills of Palliative Care Teams across the nation, in which many NACC members serve.