Later Life Chaplaincy provides people in the later years of life with support, care and nurture, particularly their spiritual needs, regardless of whether they have a faith or none. While Methodism has a proud history of supporting those in later life through its work with MHA, they are not the only place where chaplains to people in later life can be found.  Chaplains can be found in care homes, retirement communities or wherever older people gather and there is need for support.


A webinar hosted by the Evangelism and Growth team and Anna Chaplaincy: caring spiritually for people in your community

A webinar hosted by the Yorkshire Plus Region: Hear about the work of Anna Chaplaincy and Deep Talk

Videos featuring Later Life Chaplaincy

Quotes from Later Life Chaplains

"Being a chaplain to people in later life is to keep singing the Lord's song with them in their “strange land”. They may feel cut off, ashamed, forgotten, purposeless... so it's a joy bring daily reminders that each one is totally accepted, loved, valued as infinitely precious human beings, whether they have a faith or not. It's a joy to listen to their varied and remarkable life stories and a privilege to be a companion in the penultimate chapter of their lives." Janet Day (MHA Torrwood, Wells) 

"Being a Chaplain is a thrill, a challenge, an utter privilege and can be the most fun a person could ever have. From caring spiritually as end of life beckons to discussing the politics of the eighties, the music of the sixties and all things in between. With this job and these people, I sometimes can’t believe my luck!" Alma Fritchley (MHA Laurel Court, Didsbury)

"Being a chaplain to people in later life means I get to know a wide number of people who have had long and interesting lives and gathered a lot of wisdom. I learn from a generation that underwent a war, poverty and many difficulties, and who have seen how our society has changed since then. I enjoy offering a space to talk about their lives, the good and bad, and their spiritual life. I can just focus on listening to them, without other tasks or distractions, just hearing where they are right now. It's a privilege to be a chaplain because I can give time to talk to people and understand them. I can learn about their faith or their lack of it, and what is meaningful to them." Heather Tomlinson (MHA Adlington House, Otley)

“Being a chaplain to people in later life means going in friendship onto the very margins of society and church, to those so often overlooked, in order to build genuine, positive and living communities in which people can continue to grow and where each person’s spiritual well-being can flourish. It also places you closely alongside people from every age group, from the oldest to the youngest, in very real situations of life and of death in the face of which there can be no pretence. You quickly realise that any agenda of your own has little or no place here, and that it’s sometimes best just to move out of the way and watch in wonderment what God is doing rather than try to interfere with it.” Richard Golding (MHA Starr Hills and Hatherlow House)

"Being a chaplain to people in later life means having to let go of preconceived ideas and stereotypes: in the end, our spiritual journey is just that, ours.  Unique to each person.  But walking alongside each other as companions for part of the way, sharing questions, wisdom, fears, allows us to hold the space in which spirituality can be deepened and the ‘spiritual work’ of later life can be done." Sibylle Nothhelfer-Batten, Area Support Chaplain, Southcroft

"As a chaplain to older people, I am privileged to hear about the experiences of people’s lives, the adventures they've had and the shocks that they have sustained and lived through. I find it heartening to see how they can adapt to change and find new life and friendships when they were not expecting it." JB 

"It's a privilege to be a chaplain to people in later life because sometimes you have the opportunity to be with them at the end of  their physical lives but always aware that you are in God's presence.....always a Holy moment. I am privileged to get to know about their amazing and inspiring lives." KT

"It’s a privilege to be a chaplain to people in later life because they are so wise, they have has so much life experience and I have learned some valuable lesson from them. I love my job as a chaplain, to meet someone new, nurture the relationship and to enjoy the fruits of friendship and trust that develop is a huge privilege and it is like nothing I have ever experienced elsewhere." SP

“It is a privilege to be a chaplain to people in later life, as it is an honour and so humbling to journey alongside them in the last stages of their life through good and bad times.” DE 

"As a chaplain to people in later life, I have the privilege and responsibility of promoting spiritual wellbeing through person-centred, Christ-centred service. I try to support and encourage everyone at the home. One of the privileges and challenges I face as a MHA chaplain is to provide holistic support and friendship to both tenants and staff. 2020 was a great test of my chaplaincy, but prayer and my sense of humour were a great help." MR

"It is a privilege to journey with people in later life and appreciate their wealth of experience and knowledge." KJ 

"It is a privilege to be a trusted holder of peoples' stories. It is an honour to be able to come alongside a person, be alongside them. It's about being present to a person. It's about paying attention to a tenant, sharing their joy,  also being with them at times of seriousness and great sadness too." JT

Reflections from a Later Life Chaplain

When a child dies parents are changed forever.

I’m struck by how many older people I visit tell of this experience. One woman in her nineties had lost both daughters to cancer in their middle-age. “Here I am sitting in this home all day, and they never benefited from a penny,” she said. “All my money is being swallowed up in care home fees.”

Medical advances and longer life expectancy, mean when older people are pre-deceased by their offspring it’s felt as even more of “an outrage;” contrary to the natural order of things. Thoughts of “what might have been” are hard to deal with alone.

Another mother declared: “Nothing will ever hurt so much again.” This is just one aspect of my listening work as a Chaplain to Older People promoting the spiritual welfare of people in care, as well as those struggling to still live independently.

Debbie Thompson
Anna chaplain

For more information check out our Chaplaincy Resources and Links and Chaplaincy Reading pages.

Check out these Chaplaincy Blog posts too:
Chaplaincy in a local care home
Helping the elderly in self-isolation
Marking the Centenary of the Armistice in MHA homes
Cherished and affirmed: a partnership of hope

These pages may also be helpful:
Spiritual care for older people - the work of Anna chaplains
Help MHA to tackle loneliness and isolation in later life
MHA during the coronavirus pandemic
The Methodist Podcast Episode 11
The Methodist Podcast Episode 21
Methodist Homes Sunday

These external links may also be of interest:
Chaplaincy & Spirituality (MHA)

The Methodist Church is not responsible for any third party content linked to from this website.

You will find contact details on our Chaplaincy Contacts page.