We’ve teamed up with local religious groups to ensure residents can observe their faith by streaming spiritual services into the home.
Our manager, Amanda Tanner, says maintaining contact with residents’ religious community is a valuable connection: “It is very important to have that support service and access to the wider community for those who rely on their faith,” says Amanda.
The use of online technology including tablets has allowed for some sessions to be interactive with residents singing along to hymns and taking part in prayers.
“The response from the residents has been really good,” says Amanda. “They have been very grateful that the local churches and mosques have been able to produce something for them and a couple of residents got emotional when watching the services.”
Members of the local Baptist church and the rector of St Mary’s in Shinfield became involved with virtual sessions over Easter. The Revd. Paul Willis of St Mary’s says adopting new ways to communicate with parishioners is particularly important for those in residential care.
“The spiritual welfare of everybody is important, perhaps particularly in care homes because the majority of residents just aren’t able to go out to church which might have been their habit for many years,” he says. “And so I think it is important to try to satisfy that need in them for some kind of spiritual connection.”
Revd. Willis says embracing technology is the way forward. “We are really at an experimental stage with this as a church,” he says. “We will be doing Zoom services on Sundays, for instance. It’s all new.
“We are learning all the time,” says Revd Willis. “I think this is important as the church has to find new ways of engaging with the broader congregation who may not come over the threshold of the church.”
Other faiths within the care home are also catered for with prayers being beamed into the home for Muslim residents.
“It’s been really great to see mosques and Muslim institutions mobilise to bring their services into the care homes of their communities in the wake of the pandemic,” says Zainab Gulamali of The Muslim Council of Britain. “This has been particularly beneficial in Ramadan, which is a very spiritual time for many Muslims.
“It has also meant those who may not have been able to attend the mosque are given the opportunity to still engage with their faith by streaming services and lectures,” she says. “In these testing times, it’s important people are still able to connect spiritually with their faith and engage with their faith leaders, and Muslim institutions have risen to the challenge to provide services and support to Muslim communities.”
For many older people their faith has been an unwavering presence throughout their lives. Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) state a third of Christians in England are over 65, and so observing their faith is of particular importance to the elderly, especially during such a difficult period of uncertainty.
A recent poll suggests many Britons of other age groups are adopting new ways of connecting with religion. According to a Savanta ComRes survey one third of UK adults have watched or listened to a religious service on radio, TV, or online during lockdown, while 5% who say they have watched or listened to a service since the lockdown began have never gone to church.