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New resource helps providers run volunteer spiritual care programs


From left: Ken Wyatt, Julie Collins, Ilsa Hampton, Catryna Bilyk and Dean Smith

An evidenced-based guide to enable aged care organisations to establish and manage a volunteer program to deliver spiritual care to residents has been launched by Minister for Aged Care Ken Wyatt.

The Leader’s Guide to Running an Effective Spiritual Care Volunteer Program guide has been developed by spiritual care for ageing peak body Meaningful Ageing Australia.

The resource was launched by Minister Wyatt in Canberra last Thursday at a meeting with the Parliamentary Friends of Ageing and Aged Care run by Meaningful Ageing Australia.

Meaningful Ageing Australia CEO Ilsa Hampton said her key message to politicians was that contemporary spiritual support was broader than religious-only support.

Meaningful Ageing Australia’s latest resource for providers

“The Royal Commission into aged care has been triggered by general community distress by the perception that aged care does not fully understand or intrinsically value older people,” Ms Hampton said.

“We are working in partnership with providers to take positive steps to improve on the experience of aged care for older people and their loved ones.”

The leader’s guide, which provides a comprehensive, evidence-based resource to enable organisations to establish, maintain and manage a spiritual care volunteer program, is one of those new initiatives, Ms Hampton said.

The guide is based on material created by BaptistCare NSW & ACT, published literature, in-house expertise and input from providers including Fresh Hope Care, Churches of Christ QLD and VIC, Warramunda Village and Juniper.

It was developed in response to provider demand following a training course for spiritual care volunteers distributed by Altura Learning

Also last week, Meaningful Ageing Australia released a joint position statement developed with aged care peak bodies Leading Age Services Australia and Aged & Community Services Australia calling for the universal acceptance of the importance of spiritual support in aged care.

The statement calls for:

  • workforce reform to include capability to deliver high-quality spiritual support in aged care
  • the integration of person-centred spiritual support into aged care and end of life models in any setting
  • aged care resource allocation and funding to recognise the need for spiritual support and workers with the right capabilities and time to listen
  • the government to recognise spiritual support within increased funding for palliative care in residential aged care from 2019-20
  • care models and adequate funding to allow people to participate in meaningful activities, such as engaging with the local community, pets, gardening and cooking
  • Government response to 2018 Productivity Commission report on human services reform
  • support for organisations to implement the federally-funded National Guidelines for Spiritual Care in Aged Care.

See Meaningful Ageing Australia’s website here for information on accessing their resources.

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