Chaplaincy in a local care home

09 March 2021

“It is exactly two years since I first started as a volunteer at my local care home.  It is, I believe the most effective work of Christian outreach in our local community I have ever done.” Anna Chaplaincy

The above is my quotation as it appears in the Bible Reading Fellowship News, November 2020.

My own calling stems from when my college friend was diagnosed with Alzheimers.  As the disease took its toll on her and her loving supportive husband and carer I saw the need and responded.

In May 2018 I knocked on the door of Memory House, midway between my home and my Wesley Methodist Church and offered my services as a volunteer.  After due process I started my weekly visits doing one to one interactions with residents most of whom have advanced dementia.

I absolutely love the work and miss it so much currently, as the home is in total lockdown.  I shall return as soon as I am vaccinated and permitted to return.

Many of my conversations are with very elderly residents.  Percy was 97 last year and I was privileged to be talking to him, when one of the staff told him it was his birthday.  He is always pleased to thank me that I note important things in my ‘jelly beans’ notebook.  He never recognises me, but when I remind him that he used to service Lancaster Bombers in WW2 he is so pleased that I can check things he has told me.  Percy is one of the kindest, most courteous men I have ever met and when I remind him of his life story is so grateful that I can prompt him with stories of his own life that I have gained. 

Staff can also be so helpful as one bought him a Lancaster Bomber badge from Duxford, which he often wears on his jumper.  For a time he is so lucid and happy to talk about not waiting to be called up, but volunteering.  Last week we talked again about his father serving in WW1 in the Seventh City of London (the shiny sevens) and of how proud his father was when he volunteered in WW2.  I never tire of similar discussions as he himself loves our conversations.

Instead of visiting Memory House I am doing telephone befriending for Age Concern, which again I love.

Eileen Simmons is an Anna Chaplain and a Local Preacher

Anna Chaplaincy offers spiritual care in later life.  It was named after the faithful widow Anna, who appears with Simeon in Luke’s gospel.  Anna Chaplaincy is a community-based network that supports older people and their carers, working across many denominations.