A day in the life of a Spiritual Carer

Wellbeing coordinators
Connecting with our residents on a spiritual level is central to the mission and values of Christadelphian Homes.

Spiritual Care plays a pivotal role in helping residents adjust to their new home and their journey into retirement living and aged care.

Christadelphian Homes is committed to supporting residents in every aspect of their wellbeing, not only their medical and physical needs, but also their social, emotional, and spiritual needs.

In NSW, Wellbeing Team Leader Nerida O’Neill and Coordinator David Bridgens, and in Queensland Wellbeing Spiritual Coordinator Carmel Hayden, are trained pastoral carers, and along with a team of volunteers provide Spiritual Care and support to residents (and staff) at our Homes.

Every resident is accepted for who they are and what they believe within a culture of tolerance and inclusivity. Spiritual views, beliefs, culture, values, and affiliations are respected and preserved.

“Spiritual Care helps distinguish aged care as a home and not a hospital,” says Nerida, Courtlands Wellbeing Team Leader.

“We look after people at a very vulnerable time of their lives. It is important to know who our residents are and support them in the things that are most important to them, Residents and families appreciate someone who wants to know what is important to them, who listens to their histories and knows that someone is looking out for them.”

“Some are apologetic that they are not religious, but it doesn’t take much to find their spirituality, what ‘makes them tick’, and common interests to talk about,” she says.


Supporting residents settle into their new home is an important part of the Wellbeing Team’s role, says Carmel, Maranatha’s Wellbeing Spiritual Coordinator.

“This transition period is often very difficult for the elderly. They are leaving their homes behind and sometimes perceive they are also leaving their independence behind.”

“Their families also need emotional support as they are often riddled with worry and even guilt about putting mum or dad into care. I spend a lot of time helping them to settle in, and reassuring and comforting them,” she says.

The Wellbeing Team talks residents through their new environment and the general rhythm of the day, including meal times and activities.

It can take up to six weeks to adjust to a new home, so the Wellbeing Team may see the resident a few times in the first week and then regularly after that, depending on their needs.

“Building connections early on with residents means they will be comfortable asking for support when life and health gets hard, as they know me to be a person they can trust when they feel most vulnerable,” says Carmel.

Day to day

The Wellbeing Team usually starts the day visiting residents they are aware need support. They are also often flagged down by other residents as they walk through the home.

They receive referrals from doctors and other staff who have noticed changes to a resident’s mental health or know of problems in their lives, or the lives of their loved ones.

“Every day is different. I visit residents on a one-to-one basis and spend time with them reflecting on things they have done in their lives, places they have been physically and emotionally, and provide an opportunity for them to talk and share experiences,” says David, Northcourt’s Wellbeing Coordinator.

“I spend time outdoors with people on walks or just be with them out in nature. For some, it is about presence and sitting with them in a moment of loss, anxiousness and need, and providing reassurance.”

The Wellbeing Team also assists in meeting cultural needs such as arranging volunteers to visit residents so they can converse in and hear their native language, and help in celebrations such as events like Father’s Day and Chinese New Year.

They also coordinate and run spiritual activities such as meditation, hymn singing, all-faith services and host volunteer-led devotionals. There are a number of religious services that run at each of our Homes, and priests and ministers visit individual residents according to their wishes.

End of life

Providing spiritual support during end of life care can also be different for each resident. The Wellbeing Team may be involved as it becomes clear that end of life may be soon and the family ask for a ‘comfort care’ approach, or close to the end if deterioration happens suddenly.

Spiritual and cultural preferences they have previously shared are confirmed with the resident and their loved ones, and these are facilitated by the Wellbeing Team.

This could involve contacting people from their church for additional pastoral care support, or a priest to provide their last rites depending on their religious beliefs. It may be ensuring the room is set up a certain way with suitable music playing, flowers and aromatherapy.

“Residents and their representatives may also be scared and unsure of the process and need additional emotional support during this sad and confronting time,” says Carmel.

The team also supports families by attending the funeral, including facilitating for it to be streamed at the Home so residents and staff can pay their respects. They are also sometimes asked to speak or read at a funeral.

A blessing for all

Spiritual care supports the transition to aged care and enhances residents’ emotional wellbeing in the latter years of life.

The role of spiritual care is very welcomed by residents and families, says David.

“Families are thankful for the time we take with them and their loved ones while in our care.”

It is a blessing to be able to learn from the residents and hear their stories, says Carmel.

“I pride myself on my being a light for our organisation’s mission of treating our residents and their families with love and respect, and providing an avenue for the Christadelphian community to engage with and be a blessing in a practical way to the aged and needy in our care.”