The Parish of Kenmore Brookfield has ministered to people living and working in the five local aged care residences for decades, with a number of residents also joining us for Sunday services in our church. This is a distinctive ministry of our faith community. We take monthly services, give the sacrament to people in their rooms and visit for friendship.
Over 50 per cent of residents in Australian aged care facilities do not receive any visitors. This is an alarming figure. So we are now intentionally working on growing the “friendship” visits for those who receive no other visitors. This work involved a Pastoral Listening Workshop last year, and a commitment to continued ministry development and accountability. We seek to make our ministry about “who has sent me”.
Recently a resident from one of the local aged care homes joined the Kenmore congregation for regular Sunday worship and weekly Bible study. She catches the bus in her wheelchair, gets out at Kenmore Village, and motors down to Holy Spirit Anglican Church. She has brought great insights to us about the needs of aged care residents and of the extremely difficult staff conditions in the COVID-19 environment.
It has been widely reported in the media that during this ongoing period of high case numbers, it has been common for aged care staff to worked double shifts, with many becoming sick themselves. They are exhausted. And, this is after two years of similar difficulties.
We worked out that aged care homes were isolating or in lockdown for more than 50 per cent of last year. We know this is necessary to protect residents who fall into high-risk demographics, but at times this has meant that residents have been unable to leave their bedrooms.
An idea grew from one of our new parishioner’s prayers that she forwarded to us – to pray and care for the staff. A parishioner, Jen Bradbury, quickly organised all the congregations to bring in treat gifts for the staff. In a two-week timeframe, we distributed over 450 gifts to four aged care facilities, including chocolates, gourmet goods, lovely toiletries – something for everyone. The gifts were received with heartfelt thanks and some grateful tears.
Earlier this month we recommenced worship services in aged care residences – praise the Lord! The resilience of residents is remarkable – quite inspirational. Our new parishioner Leanne is also inspirational – and unfortunately ill and awaiting surgery. However, she is still sending out prayer requests from hospital.
Let’s all keep aged care residents and staff in our prayers, dropping in to visit or giving gifts of appreciation when we can.