Enliven's Pioneering Pastoral Care Service

By PSS | Posted: Monday August 10, 2020

PSS Enliven’s pioneering Pastoral Care service is being improved, with residents, families and staff set to benefit from a number of ‘spiritual wellness’ innovations being introduced across its aged-care residential settings.

Enliven Pastoral Care and Retirement Villages Manager Karl Lamb says spirituality is increasingly recognised for its significant role in promoting health and wellbeing.

“There is an underlying understanding at Enliven that caring for our elderly goes beyond just looking after a person’s physical needs – It’s also about tending to their emotional, social, mental and spiritual wellbeing,” says Karl.

Karl heads a Pastoral Care team of three that has, for several years now, ministered to the emotional and spiritual needs of the residents in Enliven’s four retirement village and care home sites in Invercargill and Gore. As Pastoral Carers their roles vary from day to day but typically involve spending time with residents, actively listening or offering a compassionate presence; sharing in their life stories; and emotionally supporting them in times of change, loss, crisis and in the resolution of their concerns.

As an ordained minister himself, Karl and a small network of church leaders attend to religious needs too; facilitating or taking interdenominational services and ceremonies in the Iona Chapel at Peacehaven and administering religious rituals for residents in their respective care homes.

These pastoral or ‘spiritual care’ services are supplemented by a “small army” of local church and PSS volunteers, who visit or facilitate outings for residents, helping them stay connected to the wider community – be that through faith, family and social interests, nature, music or art.

“Spirituality is intrinsic to us as humans and is not confined by religion or faith,” explains Karl.

“It’s about what gives us meaning, purpose, hope and connectedness.”

“We believe spirituality is a fundamental human right and, as such, our residents are deserving of spiritual care that sustains them in in a way that reflects their individual preferences, needs, values and beliefs.”

Recently the Pastoral Care team, together with Elaine Marshall, Enliven’s Operations & Projects Manager, put their heads together to explore tangible ways in which spiritual care could be further instilled in Enliven’s holistic care model.

They have come up with a wide-range of supplementary pastoral care innovations which include, among other things: the addition of comprehensive spiritual wellness (map) assessment and spiritual care resources in the admission process; a 7-day referral turnaround to the pastoral team; ‘themed’ life discussion groups and monthly Christian fellowship meetings; sensory modality activities for residents living with dementia; life review activities; and personalised end-of-life comfort baskets and bereavement resources, designed to honour and bring comfort to residents and their families as their life journey draws to an end.

“Thanks to a very generous funding grant by the James Stewart Memorial Trust we are able to implement the ‘Spiritual Wellness’ kits and ‘End-of-Life’ comfort baskets straight away,” says Enliven’s Invercargill Pastoral Visitor Donagh Booth.

“We’re just so thrilled because we know these measures will help staff tune in and engage more meaningfully (and more easily) with our residents about what’s most important to them – starting from day dot when entering the home, right through to the later life stages when they, and their families, need supported and respectful end-of-life and bereavement care.” 

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