In April 2018, a Community Connector position was introduced in a Colac aged care facility to provide pastoral care, social connection and generally support the wellbeing of senior residents. This marked the first aged care appointment by Korus Connect, and began as a pilot in order to ascertain the fit of a Connector role within this context. Due to the positive social impact cultivated within the facility, the Connector position has been extended for another year.
Upon commencement in the role, I spent my time building relationships and trust with the residents, families and staff. I am now accepted within the community as playing a key pastoral role. Staff will note the emotional/spiritual needs of residents and draw them to my attention. Residents will also approach me to chat about their personal concerns.
As well as listening and affirming, I have developed relevant programs that more specifically meet the unique needs of residents. For example, in one program called 'Meet the Guest', I have provided a connection between the residents and broader social circles, society and culture. I invite a business representative, society influencer or a person of interest to the facility in order to meet the residents. The guest speaks about their life, which may cover their professional work, hobbies and other life interests.
In partnership with Korus Connect School Chaplains, children from local schools also visit the aged care facility for two hours once a week, over a four week period. School students meet the residents, play board games and exchange stories. Other highlights of the Connector role have been hosting bus trips to local Op Shops, the movie theatre and other community functions, such as concerts, flower shows and art exhibitions.
I will often sit with a resident, who has entered the 'end of life' phase. I will read, sing, chat, play favourite music, spend time with families, offer emotional comfort to the bereaved and attend funerals. In addition, I visit residents who are hospitalised and accompany them to medical appointments.
Staff, residents and families have informed me of the value of the role, and their desire for the role to continue within the facility.