Not just one religion or one faith. But a common human need

59.3 % of the population of England and Wales identify as Christian. Religion in England and Wales 2011 – Office for National Statistics (ons.gov.uk)

There are many other religious and non-religious groups, all deserving of recognition, celebrated in this culturally diverse country and world.

How we celebrate our faith and beliefs, is a matter of personal choice. Regular attendance at a formal gathering, at a church, temple, mosque, or synagogue for example, is preferred by some. This does not make us more devoted to our faith than someone who chooses solitude or another medium for seeking nourishment through giving thanks, praying, or finding peace.

Although there can be an expectation of regular attendance with some faith groups there remain, nevertheless, some people who, for whatever reason, cannot attend a place of worship. Many of those people live in care homes.

Practicing faith for this group of people is largely dependent on the culture of the care home. Some care homes follow daily observance of faith: prayers and rituals, are an essential daily activity. Other care homes provide no organised spiritual activity for their people.

Many people living in care homes are left to make their own arrangements. Unfortunately doing so becomes increasingly difficult for anyone struggling with memory loss, orientation, physical mobility, or any other disability caused by age.

We collect faith details when someone enters a care home. Relatives often tell us that, “Mum/Dad/Partner hasn’t been to church for years”. But does that indicate how the person feels about their faith?

Perhaps, like me, you have an awareness of people being redrawn to the concept of their faith when nearing end of life. Possibly because of a true belief in God or perhaps just `hedging our bets’, nevertheless, this is a time when we are drawn to consider afterlife.

One of my first jobs when I began working in a care home was to organise the weekly church service. It was an ecumenical service, all faiths welcome and led by a visiting priest. It can be difficult to find a priest to visit care homes nowadays but that needn’t be a reason to ignore spiritual care.

Do we see spiritual care as separate to the common human needs of Occupation, Inclusion, Identity, Attachment, Comfort, identified so long ago that they now trip off our tongue under the umbrella term of person-centred care?

Practicing our faith, (whether faith in God or some other form of spirituality such as Art or Nature) spending time, praying, singing, thinking, listening, using a Bible, Koran, Torah is an important Occupation which celebrates our Identity. While doing so we are Included within the family of God and feeling the Comfort provided by strong Attachment. As anyone who has developed a spiritual connection will confirm reaffirming our faith is the glue that binds everything else together.

This blog is designed to encourage you to review the variety and number of spiritual opportunities that you provide for the people living within your care home.

  • How much do you know about the spiritual feelings of the people living within your care?
  • How do you feel about the amount of spiritual support currently provided to the people living in your care home?
  • What resources are available to your people?
  • What resources would you find helpful in organising regular spiritual support for the people living within your care?
  • How would you feel about leading a simple service for the people living in your home?

Meaningful Care Matters provides a `How to provide a simple service leaflet’. Free to download from our website.

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GLORIA HAYNES
Associate Consultant and Trainer
MCM
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