Active Listening by Hospital Chaplaincy Volunteers
Benefits, Challenges and Good Practice
Keywords:active listening, hospital chaplaincy, volunteers, health communication
Active listening (AL) is a communication technique frequently used in counselling. This study explored the feasibility of implementing a ward based AL intervention for patients by chaplaincy volunteers in the UK National Health Service. Seven focus groups (n=47) included healthcare researchers, lecturers, nurses, patients, AL tutors, active listeners volunteers and chaplaincy volunteers. Acceptability and perceived effectiveness of a patient/volunteer listener intervention were explored. Analysis followed the framework approach. Four themes emerged: (a) Listening as a wellbeing generator; (b) Benefits of AL delivered by volunteers; (c) Spirituality and public perceptions of hospital chaplaincy; (d) Challenges of structured communication techniques in acute care. Participants reported positive attitudes towards the introduction of AL provided by volunteers in acute wards. They shared a common belief that when people are listened to, wellbeing improves through control, choice and empowerment. Patients’ acceptability of the intervention increased if it was delivered by volunteers.
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