Innovative partnership to bring dementia care to hospice

A new and innovative partnership with Heart of Kent Hospice in Aylesford is being developed with the Diocese of Rochester’s pioneering Anna Chaplaincy team to broaden the spiritual care available to residents.

Anna Chaplaincy is named after the faithful older woman, Anna, who appears with Simeon in Luke’s Gospel. Anna Chaplains have a special focus on the needs of those living with dementia.

The Heart of Kent Hospice provides an award-winning specialist service, supporting people with dementia living from the point of their diagnosis, right through to the end of their lives; walking alongside families on what can be a long and difficult journey.  

Plans are unfolding for an Anna Chaplaincy team to be based in Aylesford Parish which will then work in close partnership with the hospice. The hospice has almost 300 people with dementia on its caseload.  Where spiritual care is needed, the Anna Chaplaincy team will respond, linking individuals with their local churches where appropriate.

The Rev Colin Terry, is pioneering this new model of Anna Chaplaincy alongside the hospice as lead Anna Chaplain, with a team of Anna Friends commissioned by Bishop James on 3 September.

Find out more about the eleven Anna Chaplains and Friends here.

The new partnership was launched at a service in Aylesford Parish Church on Monday 1 October.

Heart of Kent already holds a monthly Dementia Café at which Anna Chaplaincy support is offered, but this move extends and enhances the support residents can currently receive.

Julia Burton-Jones, Diocesan Dementia Specialist Project Officer, said that the partnership is a sign of the increasing recognition among Anna Chaplains and their parishes of how being diagnosed with a degenerative brain condition like dementia brings up questions about death and dying:

“In Anna Chaplaincy ministry we recognise that while most people die with dementia and not from it, end of life planning is important in the context of a condition which affects the ability to make choices and decisions.

She continued: “We’re therefore always trying to think creatively about ways to support older people and people with dementia in talking about death and dying, and this new partnership is very welcome extension to the support we can give.”

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