Pastoral Care during COVID-19

The St Agnes’ Care & Lifestyle Pastoral Care team has done an amazing job adapting the way they are working at the Parish’s residential aged care services during COVID-19 restrictions.

During COVID each member of the Pastoral Care team has been assigned a particular area. Beth Anderson and Paul Smith work in Emmaus; Fay Dooley in Maryknoll and Mt Carmel; Steve Jenkins in St Agnes; Jeff Coade in Vincent Court (Kempsey); with Sr Anne coordinating the team from home.

Social distancing and limits on group gatherings have made life in residential care very different – everyone misses the weekly Communion service or Mass and the coffee gatherings at the Cafe.

Sr Anne, however, says everyone has adapted well to the new situation and is very conscious of staying in touch with each other. The team visits each resident in their area regularly to ensure that, as far as is possible, each person receives the pastoral care they seek.

“Even though we are not seeing each other in person we meet regularly via video/audio conference on Teams,” says Anne.

“From a personal point of view, working from home has some good points, but I would much prefer to be out among the staff and residents,” she adds.

“We miss our volunteers who give so much life and love to our residents and look forward to welcoming them when things return to some form of normality.”

“Still”, Anne says, “there are many good things are happening!”

Here are just some of the ways our Pastoral Care team and others are providing care and support for people in our residential aged care services:

  1. Helping residents with accessing Fr Paul’s Daily Reflections, the Holy week ceremonies and the Bishop’s Sunday Mass;
  2. Ensuring interested residents receive a copy of Parish bulletin each week;
  3. Nurses, carers and the pastoral care team are very conscious that  the residents are receiving fewer visits and are all making a huge effort to spend more time with them;
  4. Schoolchildren have written letters and cards to residents who were surprised and delighted to receive them.
  5. Creating beautiful, meaningful Christian displays for Holy Week and Easter at the entrances to the buildings and where residents could see them.
  6. Creating displays Anzac day and distributing many handmade poppies to residents and staff.

When asked for a comment about their COVID experience here’s what the Pastoral Care team had to say:

Ever creative, Beth Anderson uses delightful alliteration to sum up her COVID experience with residents saying, “Isolation invites imaginative images invoking individual inclusion.”

“Having extra time to get to know the residents has been a positive outcome of the Coronavirus for me,” says Fay Dooley (pictured with Maryknoll resident Marie Grealish).

Steve Jenkins, who favourite Parish value is ‘Service before Self’, says he enjoys the opportunity to “serve and share in the lives of our wonderful Residents and help to maintain their spirituality and connectedness.”

For Paul Smith (pictured Emmaus resident, John Arlom) with it has been “helping people overcome the isolation of the COVID lockdown” through access to things like ABC i-View and SBS On Demand.

Jeff Coade (pictured with Vincent Court resident Jack Chapman) says “Pastoral Care is an ever changing environment that helps you grow as an individual”.

Paul Smith (Emmaus) with resident.

Jeff Coade (Vincent Court) with resident.