Visiting a large healthcare facility recently where older people spend weeks or months as they ‘transition’ from the hospital back to home or residential aged care, I was looking for signs of who these humans were. What kept them going each day? How were they being kept in touch with their most important connections? What impact were their beliefs having on their healing and transition to a new phase of life? If I was a new staff member here, I asked myself, how would I quickly get to know this person and something of what’s important to them without having to read a file (assuming the information is there). The ward was clean, cluttered with medical items like trolleys, bins, notices about patient safety and activities, and medical notes left in convenient places for staff to be able to track certain information. There was a large sign on one person’s room, put there to give a quick and important prompt to anyone entering or walking past: “This patient is at risk of falls”.
What would happen to people’s experience of care and healing if there was also a sign on every door that told you something about the human in the room? “Bob loves Carlton”. “Minh wants to get back to Vietnam”. “Josie prays every morning at 8-8.15am, please do not interrupt”. “Abdul’s family bring him dinner every day at 6pm. Their names are Fatima, Mohamed, Anthony and Tegeste. This is an important time for them”. If we are connected with our sources of meaning and purpose, we are more likely to do better mentally, physically and emotionally*. Some of you will be thinking, “Ah, but this is a breach of privacy.” My answer: ask the person if they want the information shared (and tell them why you are suggesting it). We need environments that connect staff with older people and older people back to what is most important for them. The practicalities can be worked out just as they are to implement clinical care. How do staff find out about these important points of connection for an older person? ConnecTo, our accessible new resource based on the work of Dr Julie Fletcher, is a great place to start.
Until next time,
- Ilsa Hampton
ConnecTo Leader's Guide
On 26 April 2017 we launched our newest high quality resource,
the ConnecTo Leader’s Guide.
ConnecTo is a great way for staff from a range of backgrounds to learn about the spiritual needs of people in their care. It uses simple, straightforward language, enabling staff in a range of settings such as residential/community aged care and palliative care to engage in spiritual care conversations. The tool incorporates a visual map and two other formats that can be incorporated into existing communication processes between staff and older people they care for.
“Part of the beauty of the tool is its flexibility. It can be used at pre-admission, in the initial assessment process, or as a review when an older person is experiencing significant change or transition,” Ilsa Hampton, CEO of Meaningful Ageing Australia, says.
Pictured: CEO Ilsa Hampton (at microphone) launches ConnecTo with the assistance of an aged care resident in the centre (Juliet Uy), and project participants (L-R) Peter McRoberts (Churches of Christ in Qld), Alison Hirst (Arcare), Angela Uhrhane (Lutheran Aged Care, Albury), Michelle Morgan (Meaningful Ageing Australia) and Dr Julie Fletcher. Photo: Arcare
“We had a woman move in and a ConnecTo conversation happened that morning. The admissions coordinator noted next to the ‘Creativity’ circle, “loves music”. That very afternoon she was connected to a visiting music group performance. We could do that because we knew what she liked” (Angela Uhrhane at Lutheran Aged Care, Albury).
The benefits of ConnecTo are varied; organisations using the tool will be developing key skills enabling staff to engage meaningfully with clients/residents. These skills enhance relationship between staff and older people they care for, minimising loneliness and isolation. Staff will be better able to identify the particular spiritual needs of the older person, and connect them with meaningful practices, volunteers and groups to support their individual needs. They will also be able to identify instances of spiritual distress and refer to appropriate spiritual care support.
The ConnecTo Leader’s Guide is a comprehensive instruction manual for your organiation to implement this practical, high quality tool. The Leader’s Guide is available now to our members at no extra cost and to non-members from August 2017. Read more and order your copy here.
Thank you to Arcare, The Bethanie Group, Churches of Christ in Queensland and Lutheran Aged Care Albury for piloting ConnecTo; and to Arcare for hosting the launch.
Listen to the podcast of CEO Ilsa Hampton on ABC Radio National, 26 April 2017 discussing spiritual care and aged care
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We have three wonderful volunteers helping us enable access to high quality pastoral and spiritual care for older people in Australia. We could not do everything we fit into our week without them.
Right now we have a volunteer vacancy in our projects team.
Do you drive your loved ones crazy by correcting their spelling and grammar?
Do you break out in a sweat when you see an apostrophe out of place’s [sic]?
Are you comfortable with formal documents and referencing systems?
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Do you want to contribute to our mission?
We have a volunteer vacancy perfect for you! We are looking for a dependable person to proof-read documents and check academic references. This can be undertaken from anywhere with reliable internet on a project by project basis. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org with your expression of interest.
Big thanks to our current
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"Since implementing the Orientation to Spiritual Care Program, our staff are beginning to understand and value the spiritual work they do everyday - the little things; the connections and conversations." - Member survey
Make sure you have your login details handy - contact your manager if you are not set up to access our Downloadable Resources
Hobart - save the date!
Meaningful Ageing Seminar for front line staff
Hosted by Southern Cross Care
11am-3.30pm, Mon 28th August 2017
Further details coming soon
Mildura - stay tuned!
Contact us now about a tailored education package for your organisation
Welcome to our newest members
We are pleased to welcome the following organisations who are showing their commitment to quality of life for older people by joining Meaningful Ageing Australia:
Christadelphian Aged Care
They are part of a growing movement to ensure meaning, purpose and connectedness are part of all aged care. Our full list of current members is here.
Last edition we announced Research Consultants for Meaningful Ageing
Read more here
AACQA Better Practice Conferences: Rethinking Aged Care -
including plenary session with
Meaningful Ageing CEO Ilsa Hampton & Playback Theatre
Darwin 3-4 May
Melbourne 1-2 June
Adelaide 20-21 July
Sydney 17-18 August
Brisbane 21-22 September
Perth 12-13 October
*See for example, Bai, Mei, and Mark Lazenby, “A Systematic Review of Associations Between Spiritual Well Being and Quality of Life at the Scale and Factor Levels in Studies among Patients with Cancer”, Journal of Palliative Medicine 18, no.3 (2015): 286-98; Manning, Lynda, “Navigating Hardships in Old Age: Exploring the relationship between spirituality and resilience in later life”, Qualitative Health Research 23, no.4 (2012): 568–575; Larson, David B and Susan B Larson, “Spirituality's Potential Relevance to Physical and Emotional Health: A Brief Review of Quantitative Research”, Journal of Psychology and Theology 31, no.1 (Spring 2003): 37-51.