Helping the elderly in self-isolation

18 March 2021

The Revd Dr Chris Swift is Director of Chaplaincy and Spirituality for MHA which is supporting 18,500 residents and their families during the pandemic.

img_4002What is the impact of coronavirus on your work?

We have had to make some rapid and far-reaching adjustments to our frontline services to support residents and their families. Those on our Live at Home schemes aren’t able to meet in person, but our staff have been helping in all kinds of ways, from arranging food deliveries to coordinating PPE supplies. It’s been a fantastic effort across the board.

How has your chaplaincy team adapted?

Spiritual care has become even more important as people are experiencing more anxiety. Our chaplains continue to be present and offer support, for example through newsletters that include uplifting reflections and prayers.

We also provide streaming services; booklets on spiritual well-being; tips on keeping active during self-isolation; over-the-phone pastoral care for residents; and we also run internet- based support groups.

Ensuring the well-being of our 130-plus chaplains is vitally important too, of course. Since the outbreak began, our regional support chaplains have been in weekly contact with members of their teams. One-to-one counselling for our chaplains is available and we are holding regular coffee-and-chat sessions on Zoom to bring us all together.

How is God teaching you to sing a new song during the pandemic?

I think we need some humility during this pandemic and to ask people who are familiar with this kind of experience how we can live well. We need to listen to those who have survived wars and natural disasters to learn how faith has enabled them to live meaningfully in a time of loss. They certainly don’t believe in a God who looks away or is absent from suffering. We need to pay attention to the less-often- heard songs already sung in our world and open ourselves up to the possibility of being taught by people we too easily ignore.


This article originally appeared in the connexion magazine, issue 19.
Photo of Dr Robert M Jaggs-Fowler: © Dr Robert M Jaggs-Fowler, TMCP