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Pastoral Care in times of crisis

23rd November 2021

Benetas, has not surprisingly found the demand for pastoral and spiritual care services to be at its peak over the last 18 months. What’s unusual however, is the emerging skills required from practitioners. They now need to be experts in resilience, crisis and trauma care.

The increase in demand has come as elderly people in Aged Care homes, Home Care and even care employees grapple with worries about their health, isolation from loved ones and the pain of mourning the passing of friends and family while isolated.

Benetas Pastoral Care practitioners have needed to pivot from their usual work in order to meet the increased demand. Due to an acute rise in behavioural and emotional issues for many older people comparable to trauma and crisis, the need for broader skills in crisis care has become apparent. When recruiting new Pastoral care Practitioners we look for demonstrated experience in crisis care, something not previously sought after at Benetas.

Damir Posenjak was the Pastoral Care Practitioner at Benetas St Georges residential aged care home in Altona North during the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020. He witnessed a strong sense of grief and loss, isolation and loneliness experienced by residents and employees, especially when a resident passed due to the virus.

Without the normal avenues to process this, such as face to face memorial services, Mr Posenjak decided to create ‘virtual’ memorial videos, specific for each resident who passed away, in an effort to celebrate their life and help residents and employees have their moment to grieve.

“We did the research and included photos and quotes about their life,” he said.

“These were then shared with the community, enabling employees and residents to reflect, remember and acknowledge the loss of much loved residents.”

Technology has been key when face to face support has not been possible, Zoom calls, phone calls and text messaging have become some of the new normal methods replacing face to face visits.

Pastoral Care at Benetas is a valuable offering for Residents, their families and employees, it is not a counselling or chaplaincy model of care. It is a referral based service that helps cater to people’s needs holistically taking into account their cultural, emotional and spiritual well-being, faith or no-faith. Pastoral Care is frequently called upon in times of sadness, loss and despair but can also play a significant part in celebrations such as birthdays, carol singing at Christmas.