Catholic Healthcare’s Community Services spiritual care program has been recognised in Meaningful Ageing Australia’s national awards last night.

The Quality in Pastoral and Spiritual Practice Awards celebrate organisations who can demonstrate a sustained and effective program or project that meets the spiritual needs of older people.

“These awards come at a critical time when the Australian community is wondering how well we are caring for their loved ones,” commented Meaningful Ageing Australia CEO Ilsa Hampton. “This winning spiritual care program shows that personalised, thoughtful and compassionate presence
can be successfully offered to enable meaningful ageing in the lives of clients in the community.”

In this program, the Pastoral Care Coordinator offers individual support, helping the client find purpose and meaning in life by being present with the individual to understand their unique life journey. This helps to affirm the client and build their sense of worth, self esteem and self value. The client is offered an opportunity to express their wishes, needs and hopes for ageing well. The Pastoral Care Coordinator works with other team members, case managers, nurses, and external support network of medical professionals for the holistic care of the client.

The finalists were chosen through a strict process of de-identification and judging by an independent panel coming from three states. The judges included Maureen Ward, representing older people; Cynthia Payne, formerly CEO SummitCare; Richard Gray, Senior Aged Care Advisor Catholic Health Australia and Dr Bruce Rumbold, La Trobe University.

Prime Super are the major supporter of the Meaningful Ageing Awards. CEO Lachlan Baird commented, “Prime Super is proud to support this Award and the important contribution it makes to recognising organisations dedicated to providing high quality pastoral and spiritual care for older people.”

The winning spiritual care program includes:
– Individual pastoral care visits offering the presence of spiritual support.
– Connection to local parish/Priest, Minister, Spiritual Leader
– Connection to pastoral care volunteers
– Referral for Social support within their program
– Referral for Social support by volunteers
– Supply of spiritual resources, e.g. rosary beads, comfort cross
– Supply of spiritual learning tools, e.g. Readings, Spiritual booklets, online resources
– Engagement in day-centre community activity, e.g. Community Choir
– Hospital visits
– Visits to a residential care home when in respite or in transition to permanent care
– Grief support when losing a relative or pet
– Spiritual and emotional support during health crises
– Prayers
– Reflections and discussions of spiritual issues, e.g. meaning and purpose

The program has been evaluated every year and continues show strong support from clients.

The winning organisation was recognised by Nick Ryan, CEO Australian Aged Care Quality Agency at a formal presentation and celebration dinner at Melbourne Town Hall. Catholic Healthcare Community Services received $1000 towards pastoral and spiritual care in their organisation and a
Meaningful Ageing publication will follow that enables others to emulate their approach.

Other place holders:
Villa Maria Catholic Homes – highly commended
Catholic Care of the Aged Port Macquarie – highly commended

L-R Nick Ryan CEO Australian Aged Care Quality Agency, Meaningful Ageing CEO Ilsa Hampton,  and the team from Catholic Healthcare

Meaningful Ageing Australia is a membership based not for profit and the peak body for spiritual care and ageing. Our main activities are the creation of high quality, practical resources, education services and advocacy with government and key agencies.