The role of Pastoral Care at Mater

17/Nov/2020     Mater Group

You may have heard of pastoral care, but do you know what it really is, why hospital’s offer pastoral care services and who can benefit from them? There are key aspects to this invaluable service which Mater Pastoral Carer, Susan, is keen to explain.

Susan is a trained counsellor who has been working at Mater as a Pastoral Carer for the past four years.  She says patients respond well to the services of the team as it affords them some confidential space to process whatever is top of mind for them when we arrive.

“Pastoral Care focuses on the emotional, social and spiritual wellbeing of patients and their loved ones during their stay in hospital.  Counselling, therapeutic listening and a human presence can be provided to those who are struggling through what can be a difficult, stressful and emotional time,” Susan said.

“Any patient, loved one or team member at Mater, can access Pastoral Care services.  Clinicians can refer patients to a Pastoral Carer or people can self-refer. We do not discriminate, and we embrace all faiths and denominations.We go where the need is.”

“There are some patients who will wish to discuss religion and their faith, and we are very pleased to do this with them, but it is not a requirement.  We aim to support patients to access their spiritual and internal resources in order to enable coping.”

Susan explains how she became a Pastoral Carer following a former career as a Catering Sales Executive in the hospitality industry (spent mostly at the Sheraton Brisbane Hotel & Towers for those who remember it).

"When I had our only child I had a decade away from the workforce and was looking for a career change that would suit my new life.  I wanted to do further study in psychology, so I decided to do a course through the Australian College of Applied Psychology," Susan said.

"Through my course I had to complete three months of student placement.  I was fortunate to undertake that at Mater in the Pastoral Care team, being mentored by a senior Pastoral Carer. Once I achieved my Graduate Diploma in Counselling, I went on to work for Lifeline, Quitline and Senior’s Enquiry Line till eight years later I saw a position advertised at Mater and applied.”

"I haven't looked back since.  I now work in the private hospital across general surgery, oncology and with private patients in the Mater Cancer Care Centre. The roles can be varied as oncology often involves long stay patients while general surgery patients can be in and out quickly.”

Susan explains she loves her role because no two days are ever the same; she can wake up in the morning and not know what the day will bring.

“There have been some challenging situations throughout my time here at Mater but it’s incredibly rewarding and very privileged work when you are able to “be with” a patient or their family through a vulnerable time”, Susan said.

“We fill a unique role within the hospital which connects with Social Work, Psychology, Occupational Therapy, Palliative Care and Bereavement, and yet is separate and apart.  I enjoy building trust and rapport with my patients and this can lead to some beautiful and meaningful moments.”

“I think it’s important our patients know our service is available to them and they can reach out to us if they are struggling or simply need someone to talk to. “The Mater Pastoral Care service is an important point of difference from other hospitals where recognising the value of the spiritual is prioritised.”

To contact a member of the Pastoral Care team please contact 07 3163 7436 at Mater Private Hospital Redland, 07 3163 3920 at Mater Private Hospital Springfield or  07 3163 6729 for Mater Hospital in South Brisbane, alternatively you find out more about the team here.

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