Collaboration across Cultures: Chaplaincy and Social Work
Monique Cerundolo, MA, BCC, staff chaplain, Spiritual Care Services Department, and Devorath Ruiz, MSW, LICSW, clinical social worker, Care Coordination Department
Chaplains and clinical social workers often work in partnership to address the spiritual and psychosocial needs of patients and their families. As a chaplain and a clinical social worker, who ourselves are Hispanic, we collaborate in a number of ways to address the unique needs of the Hispanic community at BWH.
Our collaboration includes an assessment of psychosocial and spiritual care needs, which leads to mutual referrals and consults, joint visits and attendance at family and interdisciplinary team meetings. We offer a unique skill set that is valuable at the end of life or in situations where there are complex relational dynamics or a large family presence. Our attendance at family and interdisciplinary team meetings aids in facilitating an understanding of how the culture, values and language of patients and families impact care and coping. We have also offered a joint presentation at Schwartz Rounds, “Caring for the Hispanic Familia.”
An added benefit to our collaboration is that, oftentimes, we are able to offer alternating visits to those families needing the most support. This ensures that Hispanic patients and their families receive consistent, culturally sensitive care and support. Additionally, patients and families are empowered to advocate for themselves in their care.
By bringing skills that are reflective of our unique disciplines, we strengthen the emotional, spiritual, psychological and social support offered to meet the needs of our Hispanic patients and their families. Because we are Hispanic, we conduct this work with a deep understanding of the cultural nuances that affect coping, care and support using the patient’s native language. Due to the sensitive nature of the spiritual and therapeutic conversations, using the cultural nuances and language of the patient and their family enhances a personal, direct relationship and cultural connection.