On 20 May 2021 we were invited to the online launch of a report: a survey and audit of Anna Chaplaincy to celebrate the ten years since its creation in the vision of Debbie Thrower Anna Chaplaincy | The Bible Reading Fellowship | Oxfordshire
There are now more than 160 Anna Chaplains with over 1300 volunteers working with them. They seek to support the spiritual needs of older people, to combat loneliness and to confirm that Older People Matter
The report was presented by Julia Burton-Jones and Jenny Kartupelis who conducted the research and audit:
Julia’s interviews were designed to identify the characteristics of Anna Chaplains, what they are doing and what more do they feel is needed.
- She interviewed 80 Anna Chaplains. 78% work as volunteers, 40% are aged 60-70 years. On average they commit 12.6 hours each week and each is supported by and support an average of 8 voluntary helpers. They engage with 56 individuals per month, half of whom are not associated with a church. These individuals split 50/50 between those resident in care and those living in private households.
- Topics addressed include: friends, family, health, faith. They may share singing and prayer
- The Anna Chaplains feel their impact confirms that older people are valued and loved – through their presence, their voice, their listening and the reflections they encourage.
- For themselves, many Anna Chaplains have times when they fear they will be overwhelmed, the declared need is so great. They receive support with the Pastoral Care Coordinator
For the future they aim to recruit more Anna Chaplains, to extend the network, to train and resource ministry, to work interdenominationally and to challenge ageism
Jenny has interviewed nine chaplains in depth, three old people and three care workers during the second lockdown of 2020. The interviews lasted 80-90 minutes and were conducted by Zoom and used a semi-structured protocol. The important messages which emerge include:
- Love– we do not thrive without it
- People need to feel cared about and valued, to be part of a community, part of a faith community for some, to have their spiritual life recognised.
- Many older people feel invisible, worthless. There are doubts of self-worth
- They seek things to look forward to, changes from routine, person-centred care when care is needed, a relational care approach – we are interdependent. Doing things together and in partnership – co-creators, co-authors
Anna Chaplains help by providing a relationship with the individual. In addition they facilitate relationships with others:
- The Pandemic has encouraged people to hide away. Anna Chaplains advocate for those in silent places. They free the captives.
- Spiritual growth continues in later life even though physical and mental health may grow weaker
- Some people find strength in connecting with, or reconnecting with, church
- Many people do find support in churches – but for some this is not the case
Learning from the exercise:
- Need for continued growth and recommitment
- Importance of work across boundaries – all denominations within Christianity and with other faiths.
- Importance of combatting Ageism
- Vital to reach out to carers as well as old people receiving care
There is more detail in the report available now on line: bc9a5b_7b929c0519644f6e8c9c8629525cad35.pdf (filesusr.com)
This was an impressive presentation of an impressive report – so much achieved in such a short time. The momentum and warmth are infectious. It is good to feel partnership with the Anna Chaplain phenomenon