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  • Writer's pictureDebbie Thrower

‘Reimagining Care Commission’ reports on listening exercise

Updated: May 12, 2022

Lambeth Palace, London

The Church of England’s Archbishops’ Commission on ‘Reimagining Care’ has reported back on its extensive listening and engagement exercise. Anna Chaplaincy made a submission and it is gratifying to see the degree to which spiritual care features in the commission’s deliberations so far.

Members of the commission spent the autumn and winter of 2021 and spring of 2022 listening to and engaging with a wide range of people with an interest in the future of care and support.

‘We sought to reach people drawing on care and support, those who work in the sector, those who care for their relatives and friends, and the churches, voluntary organisations and other faiths groups that support people in their local context.’

In summary, the latest report concludes that ‘churches and other faith groups offer wide-ranging activities as part of their ministry, with a particular focus on relationship-building with people who draw on care and support and their families. The quality and extent of this care and support can be quite variable, and there are challenges for churches and faith groups looking to offer support based on limited resources and expertise.’

Relational care

‘Kindness, love, nonjudgemental behaviour and respect are identified as some of the qualities associated with care and support giving... A researcher noted that care and support is “ideally a relationship based on mutual love and respect that enables greater agency and/or life enhancement for the most vulnerable and flourishing for all concerned”. Another noted the importance of “putting the person at the centre of everything – finding out what they need, want, and hope for rather than telling people what they should need or want. It should be about mutuality – seeing the person receiving care as one who also has something to offer.”’

‘A national organisation described the importance of “weaving together the formal and informal support and relationships that we can draw on to live our lives in ways that affirm our personhood and identity – the foundation of wellbeing.”’

The activities of churches, faith groups and communities

‘People mentioned the positive role that communities play in supporting people, including the voluntary sector and charities, informal support networks as well as churches and chaplains:

  • ‘A vibrant voluntary sector contributes innovative local approaches to care and support, engaging volunteers in projects such as befriending.

  • ‘Charities with good information on their websites, and access to forums for support and advice. Social media has helped to build carer networks which promote knowledge of effective interventions and understandings of the legal frameworks.

  • ‘The pandemic has helped to form local support networks which have continued to operate.

  • ‘There has been a recognition in recent years that churches are trustworthy partners in health and care structures, particularly through the development of social prescribing.

  • ‘Organisations that employ chaplains in the workplace offer spiritual care in a way that makes a huge difference to people’s lives.’

Impact of the pandemic

‘Respondents generally had a negative view of the impact of the pandemic on carers, people drawing on care and the perception of elderly people. This is in contrast to other views that the pandemic had raised the profile of social care. Issues raised included:

  • ‘Growing perceptions of elderly people as frail and needing to be kept away from society.

  • ‘Some services have closed down and pre-pandemic levels of support have not returned.

  • ‘The restrictions on visiting care homes have been difficult for residents, their relatives, and care home staff.

  • ‘Loneliness has been exacerbated by the pandemic, with people unable to leave their homes during lockdowns, and some people preferring to stay at home or continuing to shield rather than re-integrate in their community.’

Churches and pastoral care

‘Churches could provide more carers’ support groups, offering prayer and practical help. The church has rightly used much of its energy to reach people through baptisms and weddings, but what about its reach to elderly people? There should be a more comprehensive framework to help churches offer bereavement support, and to help the care sector know how to connect with their local churches, working together with organisations to offer spiritual care. It was noted generally that the provision offered by churches varies from place to place. Some churches offer excellent models of pastoral care in local churches, but this can be quite patchy.’

‘The honest reflections and experiences that were shared of care and support have enabled the commission to draw on a broad range of perspectives and understand both the positives and shortcomings of the current system. We have also benefitted from hearing others’ ideas of what a better future might look like and feedback on our draft values and principles that should underpin reimagined care being challenged.’

‘Our final report will set out how to make a reality of the vision and the actions needed. One common theme came through loud and clear: the task of reimagining care and support requires a bold vision rather than mere tinkering around the edges.’




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