Spiritual Care


It is widely recognised that spirituality is a natural dimension of what it means to be human. Within health and social care, patients, staff, carers, relatives and service-users face a wide-ranging array of challenges which can give rise to the need for spiritual or religious care. The NHS in Scotland recognises the importance and significance of those challenges and is committed to addressing those needs. 

The Role(s)

Best practice in health and social care attends to the whole person – the physical, mental, social and spiritual aspects of human living. Spiritual Care is a core and fundamental component of Person-Centred Care which seeks to help people (re)discover hope, resilience and inner strength in times of illness, injury, transition and loss. When emotional and spiritual needs are addressed, human beings experience a greater sense of personal and communal resilience and wellbeing.

NHS Spiritual Care in Scotland 

Chaplains working within Spiritual Care may come from any faith or belief background or none. All chaplains are employed by NHSScotland on a strict, non-denominational basis and do not represent any one faith or belief within the workplace.

Chaplains are Spiritual Care specialists and work as an integral part of inter-disciplinary health and social care teams. Their primary responsibility is to promote, facilitate and meet the spiritual well-being of health and social care communities and those who are part of them – service users, carers, staff and volunteers.

Skills and abilities

  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills
  • Ability to demonstrate a mature and reflexive world view
  • Ability to work as part of a team
  • Ability to demonstrate a knowledge base of different belief systems (including an understanding of different approaches to spirituality, and the ways in which individuals express spiritual need or spiritual pain)
  • Knowledge of different faith/belief groups structures and how their belief systems may impact on healthcare needs
  • Ability to engage in spiritual reflection
  • Ability to demonstrate an understanding of the theory of loss and bereavement 

Entry requirements

Becoming a Chaplain or Spiritual Care specialist in NHSScotland means achieving an undergraduate degree level (or equivalent) in a relevant discipline, including theology, religious studies, psychology or counselling. You should also have experience in the delivery of pastoral care, spiritual care, person-centred care or other related field.

Modern Apprenticeships

Modern Apprenticeships offer those aged over 16 paid employment with the opportunity to train for jobs at craft, technician and management level.

Currently, there are no Modern Apprenticeships which would lead directly to a career in spiritual care.

Learning and development

The University of Glasgow provides a postgraduate certificate in healthcare chaplaincy.