Within the parish of St Mark’s, we are involved with several care homes (Aaron House, Broomgrove, Hallamshire and Taptonville) alongside accommodation that offers supported living including Dellside and Lifestyle House. Through our mission partnership with St Mary’s, we also have a connection with Moorend Place. In addition, several members of the congregation now live in care homes outside the parish.
Jennifer Hurrell has been involved in serving The Hallamshire Care Home for several years and shares her perspective of how we offer that support. Helen Coates is involved with Oaks and Acorns, a wonderful opportunity for intergenerational ministry that links toddler groups with care homes.
The Hallamshire Nursing Home caters for people with dementia at many different stages. A large number of residents have a history of being church goers, not necessarily as Anglicans, but others do not. The thing they have in common is they all seem to enjoy a service with well-known hymns which we offer once a month in the home. We are often joined by family members who plan their visit to link in with this service.
The residents are asked for their favourite hymns and these are typed up in large print and laminated for repeated use where possible. Those who are familiar with the Church of England service join in fully and almost all choose to receive Holy Communion.
This act of worship not only helps them to reaffirm their faith but gives them a sense of Church community which they were missing. We are fortunate to have Vicky, one of the activities staff with us to help with those who find things difficult.
At present I lead the service with the help of Frances Gray but sometimes has conflicting commitments and once we are able to return to visiting, I would welcome others who might be available on the third Wednesday afternoon of the month when Frances is busy.
During the pandemic, whilst unable to visit, I telephone six homes each Friday afternoon –. With the exception of Lifestyle and Dellside, which are warden assisted independent living, I chat with them and reinforce our support. They are encouraged to give Christian names of individuals who are poorly, end of life or departed so they can go on the prayer list. I avoid surnames due to confidentiality. Having asked if they would prefer me to stop calling, they all said they appreciated this contact. Jennifer.
Ever since I used to take my 1-year old son with me when I visited friends in nursing homes, I saw how valuable it can be. Great for wee ones to get to know older people, and amazing to see how some of the residents seemed to come to life in the presence of a small and very boisterous person. I’ve been taking toddler groups in to care homes for 4 years now. With Coronavirus restrictions, this will not be possible for quite some time. In order to maintain some contact, I launched the “Kindness Postbox” initiative.
A child-sized postbox (originally made for toddler play at Wesley Hall!) is now in the Unwrapped shop in Crookes.Anyone can post their cards, letters or drawings there, and I deliver them to local care homes. I’ve delivered colourful pictures, arty postcards and even specially designed comics with quizzes and puzzles. It’s a great way to remind residents and staff in care homes that we are thinking of them. And for those of us who have too much time on our hands, writing letters or drawing pictures for someone else to enjoy, is a good way to spend a few hours. No special artistic talent is required! I’ve been cutting nice pictures out of magazines and writing about local places we’ve visited. There’s now a “Kindness Postbox” in Beeches in Walkley, and a few in Meersbrook and Heeley.
If you’d like to know more, you can go to the Facebook page ‘Sheffield Kindness Postbox’ or ask Sarah in the office for my details. Helen
These are just two examples of our links with staff and residents in care homes. Others include Godly Play, carol singing at Christmas, supporting members of the congregation physically to get to church, lunch club, the work of Claire, our worker with older people, as well as the individual connections with people through cards, phone calls and visits.
It’s been acknowledged that the spiritual wellbeing of individuals is as important as their physical and mental wellbeing and many care homes now proactively consider the aspects of people’s lives that give meaning and purpose and help build resilience in the face of life’s uncertainties. We are all spiritual beings and for some people religion with its ritual, relationships and sources of hope are an important element.
One question is, how can we at St Mark’s develop the support we offer residents and staff in our local care homes? If lockdown has reinforced anything, it’s that “being church” is not only gathering for worship within a building but about living the Gospel as we disperse beyond the walls of the church and becoming incorporated into the community we serve.
If you would be interested in getting involved with this aspect of ministry or have ideas about how it could develop, let me or one of the team know. Shan