The role of Pastoral Care in Palliative Care
Posted on May 25, 2023
In Residential Aged Care, if an older person receives palliative care, there is an opportunity for both the resident and their loved ones to receive additional support from Juniper’s Pastoral and Spiritual Care team.
Not only can Pastoral and Spiritual Care staff provide comfort to family members as they prepare to say goodbye to their loved one, but they can also provide a sense of reassurance to the resident that they are not alone in their final days.
During her years working in aged care, Juniper Pastoral and Spiritual Care Manager Adrienne Inch has provided support to many residents and their loved ones when they choose.
Adrienne recalls the story of resident Pat*, a beautiful pianist who continued to play for others despite being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
When Pat’s health began to decline, she was provided palliative care.
Understanding the importance of placing the resident and their family at the heart of care, Adrienne provided comfort and reassurance to Pat’s family.
“She had two very supportive daughters who lived locally and came to visit regularly,” Adrienne recalled.
“I provided Pastoral Care for Pat and her daughters for some time leading up to her final days.”
During Pat’s final hours, Adrienne stayed by the family’s side and listened intently as they reminisced about some poignant memories from Pat’s life.
“Over the next hour or so, I heard the whole story of Pat’s life – growing up in Perth, meeting her husband, building the family home and having children.
“Then the daughters started to reminisce about their family life and things they did through their childhood years.”
There were smiles and laughter when memories of Pat’s musical talents surfaced.
“They talked about Pat’s music and the CD she had recorded,” Adrienne said.
“They said that none of them had inherited her talent but they hoped that one or two of the grandchildren were showing promise.”
Pat’s story highlights the importance of ensuring that those receiving palliative care, and their loved ones that surround them, are at the heart of that care.
At Juniper, we believe that delivering respectful, compassionate, consistent, best-practice end-of-life and palliative care in Residential Aged Care is crucial and can make a real difference for the residents’ family, friends and even our staff.
A vital part of delivering this care is our Pastoral and Spiritual Care team, who take a holistic, person-centred approach to support residents, their family and staff when it comes to dealing with grief, loss and pain.
“Our Pastoral and Spiritual Care staff are there to guide, comfort and reassure the residents and their families if they choose, as they navigate the emotional rollercoaster that comes with a loved one who is being provided with palliative care during their final moments,” Adrienne said.
“We want to provide with our residents and their loved ones with the peace of mind that we are here during these difficult times, whether it’s just to listen as they reminisce fond memories or simply comfort them in silence.”
*Name has been changed to protect the resident’s identity