Spiritual care brings comfort to Maple Knoll residents and staff
Chaplain Nancy Vilaboy and resident Juanita Theile
Spiritual care is a necessary service for the complete well-being of Maple Knoll residents and staff.
Since Maple Knoll’s early beginnings in 1848, when a group of Christian women formed an association for the care of aged indigent women in Cincinnati, spiritual care has been a top priority. In 1996 a non-denominational spiritual care department was formally established.
“The spiritual care department has a unique relationship with our residents and staff,” full-time Chaplain Steve Copeland said. “Our mission is to assist them in reaching their highest potential as individuals in giving glory to God and in seeking independence, good health, personal fulfillment, and a deeper knowledge of God. Maple Knoll’s ministry is holistic, engaging body, mind, and spirit.” The department is responsible for pastoral care, worship services, and educational programs for elders and staff. The spiritual care staff includes a full-time and a part-time chaplain, as well as many volunteers made up of residents, employees, and community members.
According to Copeland, there is a great need for volunteer programs in spiritual care service for elders.
“In the spiritual care service, there’s a need, more and more, to raise the bar in providing quality care, with volunteer programs we’re adding another level of spiritual care-giving.”
Copeland said the volunteer work is complimentary and of great assistance to the work of the Chaplains who serve about 700 Maple Knoll residents and 450 employees.
Several volunteer opportunities are available including volunteer chaplains who operate the Chapel and visit residents, Bible studies, often hosted by local churches or ministers, and an ethics committee that advises family and residents in making difficult life and health-care decisions. Another popular and very important program is the Compassionate Companions, where volunteers provide care for residents and their families in the last 72 hours of life.
“These final moments before death are a sacred time in life,” Copeland said. “I know in all my work with the dying, by and large they have two fears: dying in pain and dying alone. People want their end to count, to have someone there to share their journey brings a sense of comfort.”
Copeland said those who volunteer as Compassionate Companions receive a sense of comfort as well, knowing they’ve been able to connect with and help someone in their final hour.
All spiritual care volunteers go through an application, interview, and evaluation process and must commit to on-going training. According to Chaplain Copeland “It takes a very patient and caring individual to help with an elder’s spiritual care, the care of the elderly and their caretakers is of the utmost importance. For many, the chaplains and volunteers are the only source from which spiritual care is provided.”
“Taking care of one’s emotional and spiritual needs is crucial to the wrapping up of life,” Copeland said. “This gives elders a sense of meaning, a purpose, a sense of satisfaction and the chance to celebrate their wisdom years.”