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Compassion during COVID - pastoral care in practice

We all know how difficult the pandemic has been on so many different levels. Not being able to be physically close has challenged us for more than 18 months now, and at times this forced distance has been brutal.

25 Oct 2021

 Photo of women receiving St John of God Health Care Pastoral Services

Mr M was brought to St John of God Berwick Hospital after his aged care facility was evacuated during Victoria’s second wave of the virus in August 2020.

He had to be isolated, and was unable to receive visitors, so Mr M’s family could not be by his side during his hospital stay. St John of God Berwick Hospital’s Pastoral Care team, provided support through regular phone calls to Mr M’s family, to keep them updated on his condition.

In addition, the pastoral care practitioners invited Mrs M and her family to send in photos, which were used to decorate his room and they used facts they had learnt about him such as his interests to make his stay more enjoyable.

Sadly, Mr M’s condition worsened and the Pastoral Care team had to make the call to his family that his life was ending, and explaining that due to Mr M being on a restricted ward, only one family member would be able to come to say goodbye.

On arrival Mrs M was met by a member of the Pastoral Care team who provided emotional support and help with the donning of her PPE. Then, she was taken to the closed ward and escorted to her husband’s room.

By this stage, Mrs M had not seen Mr M for some weeks. They were left alone and without any physical contact, Mrs M said her goodbyes to her husband.

“I just wanted to touch him,” she said.

After being escorted back to the ward doors, Mrs M was met on the other side by a caregiver who assisted with the doffing of her PPE. Together they visited a family quiet room prepared by the team just outside the COVID-19 ward.

“The pandemic has been at the heart of so much grief for Mrs M and her family, and for so many others. It is in this place among others that our team was able to provide spiritual support,” says Senior Pastoral Care Practitioner Carol Ashcroft.

Some months later, Mrs M and her daughter joined the Pastoral Care team for a Remembering Lives service. Photos were displayed of passed loved ones, a reflection and music were shared, and hospitality offered afterwards. They expressed their gratitude for the compassionate care offered to Mr M and the family throughout their ordeal.

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