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Support through the storms of life

Chaplain Major Ian Platt engages with a resident at The Salvation Army’s James Barker Aged Care Centre in Melbourne.

As we age, one of the most important things is to find meaning, purpose and connection.

This is not easy when so many things are changing around us – loss of independence and isolation from loved ones or familiar surroundings. This can be overwhelming and feel like a storm is raging around us.

One thing that helps us to engage with or embrace something new is to find meaning and purpose in each day, something that we can contribute to or that brings us joy. It’s also important to find opportunities to connect by meeting new people or joining an activity where you feel you belong.

We all need to feel that we are valuable and that we matter. We all need to know that we have others we are connected to. But how do we do this when we are in the storm and feel like we are struggling with many daily challenges?

I am reminded of the scripture where Jesus is in the boat with his disciples, being tossed by the waves in a storm. The disciples are fearful and question whether Jesus cares; in that moment, they forget who Jesus really is (Mark chapter 4, verses 35-41). Sometimes, it’s easy to forget that Jesus is with us even in the storms. He wants us to know that we are valuable and loved.

Our love for God underpins everything we do at The Salvation Army Aged Care (TSAAC). TSAAC exists purely because of its mission and its passion to care for and support people through all stages of their lives. We want to reach out and show love because of the love that Christ has shown us.

The role of a chaplain is a year-round commitment to provide pastoral care and spiritual and emotional support for residents, staff and their families. For those without a faith background, the chaplains onsite help people feel connected and find meaning and purpose.

The chapel services also allow people to find meaning, come together, build relationships and share in worship. Whether they have faith or not, all are welcome to attend any of the activities the chaplain promotes.

“Our residents have so much to share with us, and it is a privilege to learn from them.”

Regardless of whether a resident expresses Christian faith, spirituality is nurtured by each of the centre’s chaplains. It’s about helping them live their best life in this stage. For some residents, this may include connecting to their cultural or linguistic background. We certainly want to support everyone in whatever way we can.

Our residents have so much to share with us, and it is a privilege to learn from them.

Many of our residents don’t have family or anyone to support them – they see the chaplain as someone they feel connected to, someone they can share with, and there is absolutely no judgment. Similarly, families appreciate access to the chaplains.

Chaplains support families and residents during the end-of-life process when their loved ones are palliating. This is an honour and a privilege that we don’t take lightly.

Major Cheryl Kinder (below) is the Mission and Chaplaincy Manager – Salvation Army Aged Care


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