How church-based teams in Eastbourne are bringing fellowship, Bible teaching and friendship to elderly people living in care homes. By SHARON BARNARD
When her mother had a stroke and needed to go into a nursing home, Buddy Reeve was concerned to find that there was no spiritual support for her there.
“A team from my church, Old Town Community Church in Eastbourne, went along and their visits were much appreciated by the other residents,” she says.
After conducting a local survey, the former PE teacher discovered that her mother’s situation was not unusual and in 1997 founded the charity PARCHE (Pastoral Action in Residential Care Homes for the Elderly) to offer spiritual care to older people.
“Teams of between three and six people from local churches go into their local residential home and lead worship and give a short talk. If it’s appropriate they’ll have a time of prayer. It all lasts for no more than half an hour.
“Afterwards they will stay on and have a chat and pray for the residents individually if they would like them to.”
Buddy has produced some resources including large print hymn sheets in display folders, a book of 50 worship services with a Gospel message and a CD of CSSM choruses.
“Christian singer Marilyn Baker has also recorded three CDs of hymn soundtracks for us. The music is in a lower key which makes it easier for older people to sing along to.”
In addition, PARCHE organises training sessions for teams and four big get-togethers a year for the residents of all the care homes that it supports.
“At our celebration in May, one lady pointed across the room and said: ‘I think that’s Mabel!’ It turned out that it was her former next door neighbour. They were delighted to be reunited and spent the rest of the time holding each other’s hands.”
Buddy’s vision is to see PARCHE’s local work replicated in many other areas.
“My dream is to see a co-ordinated work across the country in all care homes,” she says. “We already have little pockets of PARCHE in places like Feltham and Herne Bay but we’d like to see it grow.
“We are the only national Christian charity doing this kind of work.”
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