The Spiritual Care Association (SCA) was founded in 2016 by HealthCare Chaplaincy Network (HCCN), a leader and innovator in the spiritual care field since 1961. With over 6 decades of experience in chaplain clinical practice, education, and research, HCCN has grown from a small program providing hospital chaplaincy in the New York metro area into an internationally recognized model for multi-faith spiritual care. HCCN has also catalyzed research with a grant from the John Templeton Foundation that produced ground-breaking studies supplying an evidence base for the effectiveness of spiritual care in health care.
My arrival as HCCN’s chief executive officer in 2013 brought me face to face with practitioners, researchers, and thought leaders who were well aware of the challenges of further integrating spiritual care into health care – and the genuine and pressing need to do so. HCCN’s dedicated Board of Directors sought and encouraged action to contribute significantly to the field. This required addressing gaps in training and service and developing a strategy for establishing spiritual care as a standard component of whole-person care.
From these efforts the Spiritual Care Association was born. SCA arose out of many years of research and discussion. It is the culmination of HCCN’s experience, and the thought and insights of respected leaders, daily providers, and other interested parties throughout the field. SCA engages chaplains and other health care professionals – nurses, social workers, doctors, and others – as well as community clergy and religious leaders, and organizations and institutions, in a common purpose. It looks at the real, ground-level needs of providers, patients, and their families. It makes education and preparedness a fundamental necessity for chaplains, and is working to standardize a profession that has long experienced fragmentation and inconsistency. And it commits to raising a strong voice for the spiritual care agenda by providing the opportunity in the U.S. and across the globe to speak up for change and transformation.
Since its founding, SCA has rapidly achieved extraordinary impact in its field. It has developed the first evidence-based Quality Indicators and Scope of Practice in spiritual care, ensuring that the performance and skills of SCA-trained chaplains and other spiritual caregivers can be measured objectively. This is of vital importance to hiring managers in all health care settings. SCA has also developed new methods of training and credentialing for first responders, nurses, physicians, social workers, palliative care and hospice workers, and volunteers.
The SCA Learning Center is the most extensive and successful online chaplain education program worldwide. The Spiritual Care Resources app is the first online application that gives mobile access to the latest information on best spiritual care practices for chaplains working in health care, hospice and palliative care, and first responder settings. The app provides information on spiritual care nursing as well. SCA’s chaplain certification program – the only one including a research-informed written knowledge test and a simulated patient exam – has quickly established SCA as one of the leading certifying bodies in the field. And SCA’s international reach now encompasses affiliated chaplaincy programs in 15 countries.
The Spiritual Care Association was born from a passionate vision, a powerful belief that it’s time for spiritual care to be better accepted, respected and valued. SCA, HCCN, and our partners and colleagues understand that it’s time to do everything we can to reduce the pain and suffering of those we serve, and to ensure that the whole person – body, mind and spirit – is cared for. We also understand that for this to happen, spiritual care providers themselves need more support and better guidance. Together we are making a difference toward a future of compassionate and skillful care for all who are in need.
HealthCare Chaplaincy Network (HCCN) has been an organization in the spiritual care and chaplaincy field since 1961. Throughout our history, we have been committed to excellence in spiritual care through our direct clinical care, our clinical pastoral education (CPE) and continuing education programs, and our extensive research and consensus statements. We have been an ongoing financial and resource provider to other organizations over the years, enabling them to carry out myriad projects. There is no doubt HCCN is a part of the fabric of spiritual care in America.
My arrival as HCCN’s chief executive officer in 2013 brought me face to face with many like you. The staff at HCCN educated me on our history. Thought leaders, chaplains, and other health care professionals challenged me to better integrate spiritual care into health care, to address the gaps, and to look to the future. HCCN’s dedicated board sought action to contribute significantly to the field.
That’s why the Spiritual Care Association (SCA), an affiliate of HCCN, has been born. SCA, with its vast resources and services, is the product of years of research and discussion. It is the culmination of HCCN’s experience, and the thought and insights of respected leaders as well as the daily providers and interested parties in spiritual care and chaplaincy. It engages chaplains and other health care professionals from multiple disciplines, community clergy and religious leaders, and organizations and institutions in common purpose. It looks at the real needs of providers, patients and their families, and the important role of chaplaincy. It standardizes a fragmented profession, and makes education and preparedness a fundamental necessity. And it commits to raising a loud voice for the spiritual care agenda by providing the opportunity in the U.S. and across the globe to speak up and lead to change and transformation.
A passionate vision, isn’t it? Some may say it is impossible. Others may say we have never done it like this before, and so may deride the prospect. Still others may express concern, fearing that which is new. But what about you? What do you think? Isn’t it time for spiritual care to be better accepted, respected and valued? Isn’t it time to ensure that the whole person – body, mind and spirit – is cared for? Isn’t it time to do everything we can to reduce the pain and suffering of those we serve? Isn’t it time for more to be done, for more support and better guidance to be provided? This is an opportunity to get involved, an opportunity to make a difference. No, it’s not just a passionate vision: it is the vision of our future.
Rev. Eric J. Hall
President & CEO
Spiritual Care Association