Nursing nun appointed as first-ever cancer relief chaplain

 Macmillan Cancer Relief, which provides nursing care for people with cancer, has appointed its first-ever chaplain. Sister Christiane Lehair is the new Macmillan Palliative and Supportive Care Chaplain, in the Department of Spiritual Care, at Guys and St Thomas' Hospital in London. Her role brings together the traditional principles of spiritual care giving in an acute setting and incorporates three main strands: pastoral care, spiritual care, and religious support and guidance. She works closely with the palliative care team, who work with patients to offer pain relief and symptom control and support to the patient, their family and carers', at Guys and St Thomas' and with the multidisciplinary teams on the wards. She meets patients to assess their particular spiritual, or indeed religious, needs and seeking specialised help from other religious colleagues where necessary. Sr Christiane is a Roman Catholic Nun and has a nursing background. She provides spiritual care for people with a faith or those with none. Like all other Macmillan health and social care professionals, Sr Christiane provides support to patients, their family and carers, as well as to staff working with these patients. She said: "I am there for people who need to try make sense of what is happening to them. Cancer causes changes and a lot of anxiety, it is really something that brings about a lot of questions about what you believe." "In our daily life we don't often think a lot about what life is all about," added Sr Christiane. "But when you are seriously ill you do. People with cancer have spiritual needs; they have existential questions such as 'why are we here?' or 'why me?'" Macmillan's appointment of Sr Christiane is extremely timely as the recently published NICE Guidance on Supportive and Palliative Care places an emphasis on spiritual care giving. Dame Gill Oliver, Director of Service Development, Macmillan Cancer Relief, said: "The appointment of Sister Christiane Lehair as the first-ever Macmillan Chaplain is an extension of the support Macmillan currently provides along the 'patient journey' of treatment and care. "Although spiritual care is recognised as one of the key components of palliative care it is the least developed area. Sr Christiane's appointment marks an important step towards recognising the spiritual needs of cancer patients."

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