Chaplain marks 21 years of service

Chaplain standing next to cross in Chapel
Rockingham General Hospital Chaplain Barbara Twells
August 10, 2018

Chaplain Barbara Twells has watched Rockingham General Hospital (RGH) change around her during her 21 years of service, but said the fundamentals of providing chaplaincy and pastoral care have stood the test of time.

Barbara arrived in Western Australia in 1997 with experience in palliative pastoral care in England.

“There was no chaplain position at RGH before my arrival,” Barbara said.

“I wrote to the hospital outlining my intentions and was then invited to visit. They really only had one question for me – ‘when can you start?’”

The chaplain’s role is to provide ministry to patients and arrange visits from other denominations as required.

Barbara said her favourite part of the role was building a connection with patients.

“It is a great privilege to meet people at their time of need,” she said.

“First and foremost I am here to be a listening ear, someone patient’s feel they can confide in.”

Throughout her career, Barbara has seen the shift towards holistic and pastoral care in the hospital setting.

“Whether you have a specific religion or not, every one of us has a sense of spirituality and in times of illness and pain it is important to tap into this,” she said.

“I fondly remember visiting a woman many years ago who was convinced that she was dying and there was no point in me visiting her.

“I used humour to build a rapport with her and day by day encouraged her to get out of bed and take pride in herself and continue to be there for her sons.

“She was eventually discharged and later returned with a handmade embroidered frontal which I still keep in the Interfaith Chapel to this day.”

Barbara said she has thoroughly enjoyed her 21 years of service to the patients, staff and volunteers of RGH, but still has much more to give.

“This job is so rewarding because of the people I serve,” she said.

“I do it to see the flicker of hope in people’s eyes when it wasn’t there before.”