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  • Writer's pictureDebbie Thrower

South Devon school/care home project underway thanks to Anna Chaplain, Annie…

Updated: Jun 20, 2023

Picture postcard south Devon retirement haven
Annie Jefferies

Annie Jefferies, Anna Chaplaincy lead in Devon, and an Anna Chaplain herself, explains how ‘God is even guiding Anna Chaplains to work with sixth form students on the various aspects of ageing’:

‘An interesting situation arose at the end of March when one of our rural deans contacted me to ask if the Anna Chaplains locally could help supervise ten sixth form students on their health and social vare placement (one day a week for ten weeks)… there is actually only one Anna Chaplain in this busy seaside town in Devon!

‘However my “bacon was saved” when a local Christian residential home in Torquay offered all ten students a placement in the home of 47 residents for the whole of the summer term, and I agreed to participate with some on-site teaching for the students during the term.

‘I did a first introductory session in the school, to introduce myself to the students and their tutor. We discussed broadly what Anna Chaplaincy spiritual support looked like, who it was for, where was it undertaken, what skills were required and how the necessary training was delivered to become an Anna Chaplain or a volunteer Anna Friend?

‘I also went to the residential home to meet the owner/manager, talk through the requirements of the students, view the building and facilities and meet both staff and residents.

‘The school tutor was very helpful and we talked through the requirements for understanding safeguarding policies in the home, but also relevant school policies for “out-of-school visits” and student work-experience placements.

‘The home owner has a licensed lay minister (LLM) background, and was helpful in allocating the students on a 1:1 basis to his care staff, ensuring any manual-handling issues were avoided, but that the students would help with menu selections, tea and coffee, lunches, chatting to the residents during the day and doing any appropriate activities or games with them.

‘I visited when the students were on the third visit; already they appeared to know the residents quite well, had identified their common topics of conversation and seemed very comfortable chatting away or strolling with a resident around the gardens. On this occasion, I did some ”good listening skills” role play with the students, and we talked at some length about loss and grief and what it can mean for an older person.’

‘They had realised that some residents never had a visitor and we discussed how loneliness and social isolation can impact on an older person’s life.’

‘I was doing a worship service at the home in the afternoon, so I did a “mock” service, with the students selecting the hymns and the readings. This was an interesting experience for both them and me and highlighted the intergenerational issues around the choice of singing material and more contemporary readings. It quite surprised the students to see how the few residents with dementia responded to hymn and Bible readings that he or she was familiar with from their childhood. Several of the students commented on how this reminded them of their grandparents etc. and how they relate to them in conversation and show appropriate behaviours of gentleness, kindness, listening to stories of the past etc.

‘What an enriching experience this has turned out to be. I have arranged for other people to support the students, a social prescriber is kindly doing a teaching session, and we will finish the end of the project with a fun quiz.’

‘It has been a real bonus developing these links with the Christian secondary school and the Christian residential home; hopefully this will further deepen relationships in the future and encourage younger people to be aware of and considerate towards the mental and physical frailties of older people in our society.’
Photo credit: Age-positive image library – Centre for Ageing Better





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