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In the first of a Series of Articles our Anna chaplains speak of their engagement as Chaplains with different voluntary and professional Groups who work amongst Older Residents in Alton.

Anna Chaplains in Conversation with Bluebird Care Agency in Alton

Last year, on September 2nd, Debbie and I met with 9 of the staff at Bluebird Care in the lunch hour at their office in Alton. The company is owned by Norman Murphy who is also on the committee of Dementia Friendly Alton. His first experience of the care industry was when his own father was diagnosed with Alzheimer's.

We learnt a lot from each other about how to make a connection with those who have dementia and are confused, aggressive or just very low and don't feel equal to the task of coping with what life has thrown at them. We all agreed that if we are able to inject some humour into the situation it often helped!

The staff spoke of the different approaches that they use to achieve the cooperation that is needed in order to give their clients personal care. We chipped in with the ways we try to meet people with dementia on a spiritual level.

It was moving to share with each other about the support we can give at the end of a person's life. One Carer used the lovely phrase 'preparing them for the angels'. We all felt strongly that not only the person themselves but also their nearest and dearest need to be included in the Care that we give. It is such a privilege to be involved but its costly work too. One Carer summed it up by saying 'it stays with you when you come off shift'.

In a recent edition of The Gift of Years Newsletter, Debbie Thrower wrote: 'Helen and I went again to The Bluebird Care Agency on 19th January this year to meet other Carers unable to come to the earlier session. We heard of the pressures and the joy of working with older people in their own homes. We were both keen to point out ways in which our pastoral work overlaps with the best of the care offered by staff, who place dignity and the value of each person's story at the heart of all they do for people finding themselves growing more dependent on others in later life'.

In fact several people we see in a pastoral capacity are also looked after by Bluebird staff. One Parishioner in her 90's, who lives on her own, calls them very affectionately 'the Blue People' !

We look forward to spending time with other Care Agencies in Alton so that we can all work well together in supporting all those in Alton 'in body, mind and spirit' who are in the later stages of their lives.

Helen Jesty and Debbie Thrower April 2016

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