John's Story

Unconditional understanding and a listening ear


After the loss of his beloved wife and son, John struggled to find a way to process his grief.

When John came to live at our HammondCare Miranda residential care home in August last year, he had suffered profound loss. In June his son passed away from chronic illness. Then tragically less than a month afterwards, his wife died.

Senior Pastoral Care Coordinator, Lois Haultain, says the first step she took was to simply get to know John. “Residents come first, and we believe it’s our job to get to understand them: What’s important to them, what nourishes them spiritually, what their losses, grief or concerns are, what gives them hope, who is important to them in their lives,” Lois says.

HammondCare offers a range of pastoral care services to address clients’ emotional and spiritual needs. It is a service born from our belief that a person’s inner wellbeing is just as important as their physical health. Residents at HammondCare homes — no matter what faith they hold or if they hold none — have their own personalised spiritual and emotional care plan.

For John, a significant part of that plan was helping him process his grief. To help him do this, Lois and Susan Gibson, another pastoral carer at HammondCare Miranda, spent time together with John in his residence.

Over time John began to open, sharing with Lois for the first time, deeply personal details about his son and wife’s deaths. His daughter says her father has started to talk more than he ever did before. This has helped John to move forward. And the whole family.

“I’m happy when I talk to Lois and Susan,” John says of his pastoral carers. “They seem to respond to me. They’ve helped me a lot.”

Pastoral care staff at HammondCare also use shared experiences to create a sense of community within the residence, to help nurture a person’s spiritual wellbeing. For example, Lois runs a chapel service once a week, which John enjoys attending regularly as it connects him to his childhood.

Lois and Susan have also connected John with other residents. Recently, the pair took John and two other male residents to a cafe down the road, in order to give them an opportunity to get to know each other. As a result, John is now starting to form friendships with others and socialise more.

The truth is that John’s grief may never leave him. And this is the experience of many residents in our care. However, pastoral care has given him support on his journey moving forward.

“We see people whose grief may still be with them,” Lois says. “But the stress of it can reduce over time as they transition into a ‘new normal’ for them,” says Lois. “We see people becoming more at ease, just opening up and smiling. You can see they’re more at peace. They open up to new possibilities.

To learn more about HammondCare's pastoral care services, please click here.

Pastoral Care: Frontline care delivery and enabling service

Pastoral care is not an “added extra” at HammondCare. It is an integrated, core element of our care. It exists to provide for the spiritual and emotional wellbeing of residents, clients and patients, but also extends to immediate family involved in the care. Importantly, pastoral care also supports and enables our staff and volunteers.

Pastoral care flows directly out of HammondCare’s Christian identity and motivation. It is resourced by 36 dedicated pastoral care staff and 85 volunteers who:

  • Provide emotional support in times of loneliness, anxiety, stress and pain
  • Address spiritual needs for people of all faiths and none
  • Offer prayer, hymns, church services and Scripture
  • Provide bereavement, crisis and critical incident support.