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Villa Maria finalist in Quality Practice Award

CATHOLIC Healthcare's Villa Maria Centre at Unanderra has been announced as one of six finalists in the 2016 Meaningful Ageing Australia Quality Practice Award, which recognises innovation and excellence in the spiritual care of older people.

Villa Maria embarked on a process to offer more sensitive, including and therefore spiritually supportive services for people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

Commenced in 2014 by the pastoral carer, the program first focused on people from Macedonian backgrounds, with an exploration of their deeper needs leading to gardening, bread-making, home duties, family days, icons for those who wanted them and visits from the priest.

The service now also provides more staff who speak Macedonian, translation services via phone apps that staff and residents can take advantage of, and culturally specific foods to make daily life at Villa Maria Centre a more inclusive experience for residents.

Meaningful Ageing Australia CEO Ilsa Hampton said the finalists were chosen through a strict process of de-identification and judging by an independent panel from three states, and represented the pinnacle of high quality pastoral and spiritual care.

"These finalists provide a shining light to others in the sector who are tempted to say effective pastoral and spiritual care is too expensive or difficult to implement," she said.

Other finalists in the national awards include Bethanie (WA), Carrington (NSW), IRT Kangara Waters (NSW), Peninsula Villages (NSW) and Salvation Army Aged Care Plus (NSW/ACT). Winners will be announced at an awards event to be held in Newcastle on 21 October.