Two senior MHA staff members have recently returned from a trip to China where they were sharing their knowledge and experience of building and developing care homes and communities.

Director of Chaplaincy and Spirituality Keith Albans and Development Director Karl Hallows were invited to speak at a conference organised by the Social Services Department of China Christian Council. The conference was focusing on the church’s aged care services throughout China and was attended by managers and volunteers.. This was the second year that MHA has been represented at the Conference as part of a developing relationship between the Methodist Church in the UK and the China Christian Council.

The organisers were particularly keen to hear about how MHA has developed its care homes over the years and how it builds community spirit.

As well as speaking at the conference, Keith and Karl also had the opportunity to visit care homes and churches in and around Harbin City in the north east of China to see how they are run. .

Karl commented: “We were able to give the conference details about our standards for building care homes, which they were particularly interested in, and they were very keen to learn from us. Some of their care homes are as large as our hospitals, often with four or five people sharing a room, whereas over here they are single rooms and all en suite.”

“Other differences were that they don’t tend to eat together in a dining room but sit around a small table in their rooms. There is also just one communal room which really isn’t a lounge as we would consider it to be. Instead it is multi-purpose, such as for activities.”

“But what is noticeable is the sense of community that they have – you can have a beautiful building but if you do not have that spirit then it can be a soulless building.

“Then there was the level of activities they take part in. We saw them taking part in a number of what can only be described as games. One lady was around 98 years of age and she was very active, both physically and mentally.”

Care homes in China are run by volunteers and have no state funding. The ones Keith and Karl visited were typical in being built next to a local Christian church.

Keith said: ”The pattern seems to be that the Christian community have a parcel of land on which they build a church, some administrative buildings and a care home. One of the homes we visited was run by just a single church whereas the other home was run by the Harbin Christian Council. The common theme was that the people they were caring for are amongst the poorest and are those with little or no family support. We also visited Hallelujah Church, which was supporting the Conference. The lunchtime service was in full flow with over 300 people attending.”


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