What is Pastoral Care?

By Dr Maggie Haertsch

The History of Pastoral Care

Pastoral care originated during Christian times depicting the protection provided by the shepherd over their flock of sheep. Of course, a few years have passed since 0 AD, but the concept and term remain, albeit in a far less religious manner. 

Pastoral Care in Residential Aged Care

In a residential aged care setting, pastoral care is not unlike that of the protection provided by the shepherd. The home must safeguard the wellbeing of all those living, not just in a physical sense but also meet the social and spiritual needs of a consumer. It is vitally important that their emotional and psychological wellbeing is prioritised amongst clinical care. Failure to do so can lead to isolation, loneliness, depression or even suicide.

How to Improve Pastoral Care

The high rates of anti-depressant used by consumers in homes are an indicator that there is far more we can to improve their experience of daily living. Homes must address and support the personal aspirations of each person, get to know them and facilitate opportunities for them to do things that support their identity, their spiritual and social interests. Residents that are particularly at risk of the consequences of isolation are those who are marginalised in mainstream society, such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, residents who identify as LGBTQIA, people living with dementia and people from culturally diverse backgrounds. 

Pastoral Care and Leadership

Strong pastoral care support in a home is guided through effective governance and leadership. It comes by showing interest in the individual, supporting freedom of choice and by setting a consistent positive example every day. 

Tools for Pastoral Care

The High Impact Clinical Risk Profiling tool developed by Anchor Excellence aims to help your team improve their understanding, helping to facilitate true wellbeing and bespoke, empathetic care to your residents. A committed pastoral care focus in a home leads to improved mental and emotional wellbeing and vibrant community of residents and staff. 

Dr Maggie Haertsch and Anchor Excellence

At Anchor Excellence, we work with leaders to enable them to implement excellent approaches to leadership, transformation and compliance. We are driven to enable aged care services (large and small) to transform via the lens of the lived experience of older Australians.

Maggie has deep expertise in enabling innovation and consumer-centric models that allow her to determine requirements and enable transformation quickly. Maggie is the Co-Founder of the ‘Arts Health Institute’, which between 2011, and 2017 enabled programs such as Play UP, Music and Memory, SingOutLoud (inter-generational choir), Artist in the House and Cultural Concierge.

She has worked with hundreds of aged care homes, has been published extensively and is a Certified Practitioner in ASCOT (Adult Social Care Outcomes Toolkit). She has presented at all aged care industry conferences and worked closely with the Aged Care Quality Agency in the Better Practice Programs in 2016 and 2017.

In 2018 Maggie worked at the World Health Organization on the Global Dementia Strategy. She was recognised in the 2015 ‘The 100 Women of Influence Award’, and the United Nations ‘Media Peace Award’ for Promotion of Positive Images of Ageing.

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