The coronavirus pandemic has thrown sharp relief on the lives of older people and the care homes and community that supports them, with more news reports than ever on the impact of the virus on care sector.
We know that older people are much more vulnerable to the virus, often because they have underlying health conditions, or because they are simply too physically frail to cope with the treatment that the virus requires.
As more accurate figures of the number of older people dying in care homes are reported in the news, there are concerns about the value placed on older people when it comes to allocating stretched personal protective equipment and other resources.
The Government’s welcome response of a promise to increase testing of both residents and staff at care homes will help us to truly understand the bigger picture what is happening in our care homes across the UK.
Perhaps you have thought more about older people and those living care homes this week. Maybe on your daily trip out for some exercise you are noticing how many care homes are near you, or perhaps your thoughts are turning more often to an older relative.
With so much more information and concern about the welfare of older people in the news, it is much harder now to forget about our older generations and that’s a good thing.
At Pilgrims’ Friend Society, we think about older people day in and day out. For more than 200 years, we have been serving and supporting older people, initially through a pension scheme and now through 10 residential care homes and seven independent living housing schemes in England and Scotland.
Our motivation to serve this group of wonderful, if more vulnerable people is rooted in our belief that God treasures all His creatures from their first breath to their very last breath.
In Psalm 92 it says, “They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green.”
The Bible tells us that God’s people never stop bearing fruit, regardless of their age or ability, and it is this promise that we stand on as we care for, support, and serve older people.
Later life is as much an opportunity for fulfilment and flourishing as any other time – what that looks like changes but there can be moments in every stage of life that lift us out of the ordinary and into the fullness of God’s extraordinary promises.
Even during this time of national and global emergency, those who live in our homes and housing schemes have taken an active part in supporting their communities. Whether it’s through painting rainbows, candles and crosses for their windows, taking part in our new Thursday night ritual of clapping for our caregivers, or holding us up in prayer, they are making their mark on our nation.
Sometimes we assume that because our bodies or minds begin to fail or falter, that our spirits do the same. But, as Christians, we know that should not be the case with the scriptures telling us that “…though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day”.
Regardless of our state, we are children of God, made in His image, always able to come to Him in prayer and worship. Despite the legitimate worry and concern about the impact of coronavirus on the oldest members of our society, many of them are lifting us up in prayer in the full knowledge, built on a lifetime of witnessing God’s consistent faithfulness, that He will hold us fast throughout this storm.
Alexandra Davis is Director of Marketing and Communications for Pilgrims’ Friend Society, a Christian charity which runs residential care homes and independent living housing schemes in England and Scotland.