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Care homes rely on chaplains, says MHA

07 March 2014

by a staff reporter


CHAPLAINS in care homes play a vital part in building community and helping residents to come to terms with ageing, a new study has found.

The report The Promise of Chaplaincy says that most residents in care homes are there reluctantly, and chaplains can help people to come to terms with their move, and build a sense of community with the other residents.

Research into the part played by chaplains was carried out by Dr Harriet Mowat, a researcher for the Methodist Homes Association (MHA), a charity that provides accommodation, care, and support services for 16,000 older people nationwide, including 5000 people in care homes. It employs more than 130 chaplains in the UK.

The director of chaplaincy and spirituality at MHA, the Revd Dr Keith Albans, said: "The research endorses the role played by our chaplains in helping older people, with or without a faith, to deal with some of the key challenges that present themselves in old age, ranging from increasing frailty to issues with daily life, family, and relationships.

"While many people moving to care homes are glad and relieved to be safe and supported, this is often accompanied by a sense of loss and grieving for the way of life they have left behind. The research highlighted that one of the key benefits of chaplaincy is helping people to come to terms with this, and with some of the other inevitable changes that occur in old age, so they can find pleasure, enjoyment, and peace in the present."

The study suggests that chaplains not only provide a listening presence to share the concerns of residents, but also act as catalysts in community-building, and in forging links with residents, families, staff, and volunteers.

"The chaplain role serves as an embodiment of the caring ethos and values that MHA seeks to nurture in all its staff, and it is clear that, regardless of whether people have a faith or not, the role is valued and appreciated by residents, staff, and relatives," Dr Mowat said.

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