Helping with those difficult conversations

Pastoral and spiritual care principles can help consumers to better articulate their needs, and providers to better understand them, says the new head of sector peak PASCOP.

Pastoral and spiritual care principles can help consumers to better articulate their needs, and providers to better understand them, says the new head of sector peak PASCOP.

While everyone agrees that aged care consumers should have more choice and control in aged care service provision, this can only occur in an environment in which seniors are really listened to, says Ilsa Hampton, recently appointed executive officer of Pastoral & Spiritual Care of Older People (PASCOP).

Ilsa Hampton
Ilsa Hampton

New resources from PASCOP would not just help aged care providers improve how they listen to clients, but also support consumers to articulate what’s important to them, said Ms Hampton, who joined PASCOP last month from Baptcare Vic/Tas where she led a team of 23 Chaplains since 2008.

Ms Hampton noted that the new Aged Care Roadmap, released last week, identified a key challenge for the sector was encouraging seniors and families to talk about aged care much earlier.

This presented a “fundamental communication issue” because if people were afraid of ageing generally they were unlikely to want to discuss aged care, Ms Hampton told Australian Ageing Agenda.

“We’re looking forward to assisting the aged care industry, but also Australians more generally, with having an experience of ageing that’s more around flourishing,” she said, adding that the task was about “mainstreaming” a more positive view of ageing.

Currently ageing was widely seen as something to be feared and avoided at all costs, she said. The picture of an older person was often of someone who was dependent, demanding and incapable, rather than someone who could face the challenges of ageing and still enjoy life, she said.

‘Demystify spiritual care’

In addition, PASCOP sought to promote spirituality from a point of view that included not just religion but also connectedness, meaning, purpose and sources of hope, Ms Hampton said.

“We’re really focused on creating high quality, easy-to-use resources for organisations that help to demystify spiritual care and unlock the potential of the aged care workforce to be truly present to the people they’re caring for,” she said.

Ms Hampton said the peak body was currently updating its orientation program for spiritual care in ageing, while it was also creating practical tools to help organisations implement the new national guidelines for spiritual care and aged care coming out mid-year – the first of these would be released in July with others to follow.

“We started a new series Spiritual Care Considerations, which are short, accessible, easy-to-use guides with a particular older person in mind, that provide some prompts and ideas,” she said. The first guide, due out next month, focused on Jewish elders near the end of life, which would be followed by one examining care for Catholic seniors near end of life.

In addition, PASCOP was running a “meaningful ageing seminar” that Ms Hampton said aimed to connect people who had a commitment to quality of life and care for older people. “We take a particular lens of spirituality, meaning, connectedness and purpose and we have different speakers depending on the location.”

More broadly, Ms Hampton also confirmed that PASCOP was beginning to advocate to the Federal Government for spiritual care to be included in care and funding models.

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Tags: Aged Care Roadmap, communication, Ilsa Hampton, pascop, pastoral-and-spiritual-care-of-older-people,

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