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Chaplaincy services help to restore and sustain hope, well-being and community spirit amongst older people in care homes, a new study has indicated.

The study was commissioned by MHA, the national charity providing accommodation, care and support services to 16,000 older people nationwide, including 5,000 people in care homes. It was conducted by Dr Harriet Mowat, Research Fellow, School of Divinity at Aberdeen University and Director of Mowat Research.

Chaplaincy is a key pillar of MHA’s person-centred approach to care and support for older people, which attaches importance to spiritual as well as physical health and well-being.  The charity is one of the pioneers of chaplaincy within a social care setting and today employs more than 130 chaplains in its care homes and retirement schemes across the UK.

Rev’d Dr Keith Albans, Director of Chaplaincy and Spirituality at MHA says, “The research endorses the role played by our Chaplains in helping older people, with or without a faith, to deal with some of the key challenges that present themselves in old age, ranging from increasing frailty, to issues with daily life, family and relationships.

“Whilst many people moving to care homes are glad and relieved to be safe and supported this is often accompanied by a sense of loss and grieving for the way of life they have left behind. The research highlighted that one of the key benefits of chaplaincy is helping people to come to terms with this and with some of the other inevitable changes that occur in old age, so they can find pleasure, enjoyment and peace in the present.

The study suggests that Chaplains not only provide a listening presence to share the worries, fears and concerns of residents, but that they also act as catalysts in community-building, bringing the outside world into care homes and forging close links with residents, families, staff and volunteers.

“The Chaplain role serves as an embodiment of the caring ethos and values that MHA  seeks to nurture in all its staff and it is clear that regardless of whether people have a faith or not, the role is valued and appreciated by residents, staff and relatives,” said the report’s author Dr Harriet Mowat.

For further details on ‘The Promise of Chaplaincy: A Research Report’ please contact Rev. Dr. Keith Albans (keith.albans@mha.org.uk)

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