Caring for the whole person

When Ludovic Virag spotted Mercy Place Dandenong on the way to his local cricket club, he returned to his residential aged care home and told his friend Maria, “I’ve found a better place for you”.

While he may have been initially attracted to the modern architecture of the home, once Maria had moved into Mercy Place Dandenong, Ludovic learned that it was what the home offered once inside that was even more impressive.

Ludovic could see that the team of nursing staff and personal carers were taking care of Maria’s physical needs and the energetic lifestyle team was meeting her social needs.

Yet it was the pastoral care that the home provided that made the greatest impression.

Ludovic first met Mercy Health Pastoral Carer Gerard Ferron before he made his application to Mercy Place Dandenong.

“I saw Mercy Place Dandenong and thought it looked like a nice place,” Ludovic says. “And then after Maria moved in, I could see the connection she had built with the staff. I met Gerard on a visit and I built a connection with him, too.”

Gerard offered to help Ludovic move into the home.

It’s not just a room we provide, it’s physical care and emotional care.

“Moving into residential aged care can be an emotional time,” Gerard says. “It is always important to help residents with their transition and especially with rediscovering the meaningful life they enjoy. For Ludovic, both his physical care and emotional care are equally significant. Ludovic was not happy where he lived. He now enjoys a friendship with staff, where his accommodation, medical, lifestyle and faith needs are fulfilled. Ludovic enjoys crafts and other hobbies and now has even closer access to his friends at the Dandenong Cricket Club.”

Pastoral carer Gerard Ferron and Mercy Place Dandenong resident Ludovic Virag share some quality time together at the home.

The role of pastoral care is essential to helping residents make the transition. Entry into residential aged care can be a significant change for a resident. In many instances, it is unexpected and accompanied by grief and loss. Pastoral care can help with compassionate assistance to comfort, sustain, guide and reconcile the emotional re-connection that residents need in their lives.

Pastoral care is, at its very heart, an approach to person-centred care. Through conversation and reflective listening, pastoral carers support residents emotionally and spiritually in challenging times, help residents explore their sense of purpose and make connections in times of loneliness. Emotional healing through pastoral care can restore trust in physical care and encourage residents toward greater hope and dignity for their lives.

Mercy Place Dandenong resident Dorothy Allen says Gerard offers wonderful support and is a great listener.

“A resident will usually know they need physical care and that is what decisions are often based on when choosing a home. But I love Mercy Health, and how Mercy Health supports the aged. We provide holistic, person-centred care and it always gives me great joy to meet a new resident and to be able to give them that whole picture of what life is like in a home where pastoral care needs are met; that it’s not just a room we provide, it’s physical care and emotional care.”

For Ludovic, Gerard’s support has been invaluable. “He gave me the support I needed to come and live here, and now I am here, I can talk to him about anything. He is a big help to me.”

Last reviewed December 19, 2021.

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