In the NHS there is an acceptance that spiritual care is an essential component and there are structures which support a spiritual care team. However, in the care home sector there are many providers of service, so it is difficult to have a system but relies on the enthusiasm, knowledge, and willingness of individual care homes as to how spiritual care and continuing contact with a faith community is enabled. Most care homes provide an opportunity for residents to attend a worship service, and this depends on building relationships with local churches or faith communities. This is very important for residents of faith, but a chaplaincy service offers a more individual opportunity to discuss critical issues with someone who is not responsible for offering physical care or family who also bring emotional needs.
This is why Anna Chaplaincy can play a vital role and FiOP is pleased to be working with the Anna Chaplaincy Team to encourage the training of individuals and the development of a movement to establish Anna Chaplaincy in different denominations to support care homes and people in their own home. The pandemic highlighted the importance of these connections. FiOP has run two very successful seminars to introduce Anna Chaplaincy which were attended by over 100 people.
Debbie Thrower the founder of Anna Chaplaincy wrote:
“What many people on their own long for is someone to talk to – someone who’ll look as if they are trying to understand them.
Since 2014 the movement has grown from a single chaplain in a small market town in Hampshire, to a national network of chaplains in all sorts of towns and villages that’s more than 200 strong. The name is inspired by the widow Anna in Luke’s gospel, who was 84 years old, we’re told, and full of faith and hope.
It is all still a drop in the ocean in terms of need, but the pandemic has certainly accelerated the number of new recruits. One of those is now ministering in South Lanarkshire, and there are other network members in Nairn and Orkney.
Anna Chaplains helps those who feel isolated navigate the choppy waters of old age. They serve people of all faiths and none, in residential care and private homes. The range of support is wide, from ‘just talking’ to being advocates for those who are alone or feel disempowered. Through conversation, spending time getting to know individuals, they help engender fresh perspectives on challenging situations. Their greatest impact is to help people feel ‘loved and cared about’.
The Anna Chaplaincy runs an excellent on-line course. Why not explore whether this role might be for you too? www.annachaplaincy.org.uk
Anna Chaplaincy is part of Bible Reading Fellowship, BRF, whose vision to see an Anna Chaplain in every small and medium-sized community in the country, and for the Anna Chaplain name to become synonymous with spiritual care for older people.