Worship using Skype - the challenges
Updated: May 21
I want to share with you the experience of one Anna Chaplain who has mastered the art of using Skype in order to worship remotely with her care home residents. It's important to be honest about how the process goes. This is her account, shared with her permission:
I finally succeeded in connecting with one of my care homes using Skype. I was able to see some of the residents and join in a small act of worship, offering a little reflection on the parable of the prodigal son.
It was an interesting experience, highlighting as it did the confusion of some of the residents, as well as their pain. It was clear that they did not find this way of ‘doing church’ very easy. It was as if they could not really connect with it.
One resident became very distressed as we progressed. She was a lady I have spent time with in the past, and it seemed that she was bringing all her hurt and pain… and it was too much for her.
'My heart ached'
So, though it was lovely to see the residents and talk to them, my heart ached, and is aching, for their confusion and for how the events of the past weeks have impacted on them.
One great joy was that Phyllis (name changed) was with us, having survived the virus at the age of 96!
I will hope to connect again next week and pray that as we continue it will become more of a shared experience.
What this Anna Chaplain is relating is a reaction common to many of our network as they adapt to a changing environment. My own feeling is that worship via Skype (or similar internet platforms) is bound to be an unfamiliar concept for those people of an advanced age in care homes. It will take time to help people become accustomed to what is an alternative way of offering spiritual care, but I still think it is better than nothing.
We all want to remain optimistic, but we have to acknowledge that it may be a long time before 'normal' visiting returns in care homes and sheltered accommodation even after the government's lockdown restrictions are lifted.
We need to be frank about the difficulties but still encourage people to try – to innovate in ways that seem doable – because the alternative of leaving older people without any spiritual input, comfort and support is not acceptable.
Making the case for good spiritual care locally and nationally – especially for the sake of staff and residents who have been anxious, and at times distraught, on account of this pandemic – has to be the raison d'etre of Anna Chaplaincy now and in the future.