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An Overlooked Opportunity: A Chaplain in Every Nursing Home

Like it or not, many of the five million seniors in Canada are making their homes in special care facilities. And, deciding to make the move can be a heavy decision - both for the resident and for their family.

Like it or not, many of the five million seniors in Canada are making their homes in special care facilities. And, deciding to make the move can be a heavy decision - both for the resident and for their family. Nursing homes can provide the peace of mind of knowing that the residents' physical needs are being taken care of. But what about their emotional needs? And more importantly, how are their spiritual needs being addressed? Sadly, this is a void in most nursing homes. It is into this void that Community Chaplain Service Canada (CCS) steps in.

CCS provides the services of trained chaplains to nursing homes across the country, with chaplains currently active in five Provinces, and a vision to see a chaplain serving in every facility in Canada. This is an intentionally non-denominational ministry that is set up to serve residents of any (or no) faith background. CCS has been training full-time and volunteer (associate) chaplains for service since 1991, as well as providing resources to churches. More than 350,000 seniors are currently living in special care facilities, and that number is expected to increase drastically as the average age of Canadians slides ever higher. During the course of a typical visit, a CCS chaplain will work with staff members to visit as many residents as possible, especially those who will not or cannot leave their rooms. In addition to providing residents with much needed companionship, chaplains will pray, read scripture, and provide pastoral care. Some chaplains have even started Bible studies, and officiated memorial services when requested. Every resident is unique, and CCS chaplains ensure that their visits speak to where each person is at in their relationship with God. Many have no faith at all, while others are long-time believers who are in need of encouragement, assurance, and care.

In order to see their vision of a chaplain in every nursing home in the country, CCS needs your help. Please pray for these chaplains as they seek to bring God's love into facilities that too often can seem lonely and overwhelming. Pray that they would bring hope and encouragement to every resident that they meet. Almost all of their chaplains are volunteers, but many would like to expand into full-time ministry, which requires them to raise their own support. Those who have already taken this step of faith face a constant struggle to maintain consistent financial support while at the same time trying to focus their minds on the needs of others. And of course to make their vision a reality, CCS needs more volunteers. Executive Director Robert Waddell notes, "people seem to be timid when it comes to visiting in a nursing home." But this need not be the case. With the training and guidance provided by CCS, volunteer associate chaplains are given the tools to effectively serve the residents of nursing homes.

In addition to the training, CCS provides their associate chaplains with prayer cards, name tags, and business cards, and also work to make arrangements for them to serve in local nursing homes. They ask for a minimum commitment of two hours per week. The need for chaplains in nursing homes has never been greater, and all indications are that it will only increase. Take the time to prayerfully consider if God is calling you to serve those who have spent so much time serving us.



For more information about this ministry, or to offer your support, please visit www.communitychaplaincanada.org.