Reflecting on the value of pastoral care in supporting people’s ageing journey is essential as the role of religion in Australian society continues to be debated.
At Amana Living, pastoral care is part of a multi-disciplinary approach to the care we provide to our residents and clients. We are blessed to have a team of ordained and lay chaplains along with a number of parish priests who provide chaplaincy services at every Amana Living residential care centre and retirement village, including regional locations such as Kalgoorlie, Mandurah, Australind and Albany. Amana Living’s chaplaincy team has carried out more than 5000 pastoral care visits in the last year alone.
It is a staggering number of visits but that’s because we’re committed to meeting the spiritual needs of our residents and clients as part of a comprehensive approach to supporting people as they age. To us, aged care is more than looking after a person’s physical health. It’s also about nurturing their spiritual and emotional wellbeing.
This means pastoral care plays an invaluable role in aged care. It can be particularly helpful during difficult times like illness, trauma and palliative care, where chaplains provide a gentle presence, support and counselling. Family members and friends are a vital emotional resource, but sometimes it can be helpful to talk to a third party who isn’t involved in a situation.
As we grow older, many of us start thinking about the meaning of life and preparing for death. This may include reflecting back on our life, repairing relationships, giving and seeking forgiveness, discovering peace and finding hope. These are weighty issues which our chaplains can help people to explore, regardless of a person’s religious beliefs or affiliation.
For those aged care residents without any family, chaplains provide much-needed companionship, helping them to feel less isolated and more connected. Chaplains can also act as an advocate for the resident, encouraging them to speak to staff about issues that matter to them or taking on that role if the resident is uncomfortable or perhaps unable to advocate for themselves. They are also there for the person at the end of life.
As long as we are responsible for meeting people’s health, emotional and spiritual needs, Amana Living will continue to provide pastoral care for our residents and clients which reflects our Anglican essence and Christian values.