Support with life’s journey
10 Feb 2021
A Residential Aged Care Home is a busy place… nurses attending to resident needs, kitchen staff preparing meals, lifestyle officers running events and activities. Amidst all of the work there are dedicated people who ensure the holistic needs of residents are responded to through spiritual care. They provide comfort, healing, or just a friendly face in times of change, illness, loss or grief.
These staff members are part of Catholic Healthcare’s Pastoral Care team, an integral component of our Enrich Model of Care. Safe, friendly, inclusive and free from judgement, Pastoral Care practitioners and volunteers reach out to those when they need it, providing spiritual and emotional support to residents, Home Care clients, and their families.
Tom Davies, Pastoral Care Coordinator based at Coolamon Villa in Mullumbimby (pictured above), is one of a 30-strong team of Pastoral Carer practitioners who work across Catholic Healthcare.
“My role is to provide spiritual support to our residents and their families, in which ever way that spirituality is expressed by them,” says Tom. “Spirituality can be religious, or it could be family, music, a love of sport or nature. I ensure residents have access to the spiritual, emotional and wellbeing source which means the most to them.
“We offer guidance and spiritual companionship to anyone who needs it regardless of background, faith or belief system. We can sit with residents and listen, take in what they have to say, and bring empathy and understanding, helping them find meaning and purpose in a situation.”
Originally from Wales, Tom moved to Australia as a young man, met a local Mullumbimby girl while studying in Queensland and moved to regional Northern NSW a few years ago. Tom and his wife live close to Coolamon Villa with their two year-old son with another baby on the way.
“I studied literature and then completed a Graduate Diploma in psychology,” continues Tom. “I wanted to obtain some practical experience in counselling so applied for the pastoral care role at Coolamon. I am enjoying it so much, getting to know all the residents.
“I am particularly inspired by the book, The Wounded Healer by Henri J. M. Nouwen, and the message that as pastoral carers we are not counsellors. We are not here to ‘fix’ things, we enter a journey with residents and their families – we travel with them.
“For someone who is in the last stage of their journey, I provide comfort and companionship. Being there when someone is dying is one of the greatest privileges of my life. Yesterday a man started to decline very rapidly. I sat with him and made him comfortable in line with his wishes. Something happens during that witnessing – you see a small reflection of the divine.”
Catholic Healthcare’s Mission theme for 2021, Reaching Out, resonates with Tom.
“Our Mission is to promote life in all its fullness and we do this by ‘reaching out’ to our residents, their families and our colleagues. We work together every day to build bridges and create connection.”
Catholic Healthcare’s Pastoral Care service can be accessed as part of a Government funded Home Care Package or in our Residential Aged Care Homes. Call us on 1800 225 474 if you woule like further information on Pastoral Care - or visit www.catholichealthcare.com.au/homecare/popular-services/pastoral-spiritual-care/