Faith for life promotes spiritual wellbeing for people with dementia

An innovative Christian resource is changing the way we think about spiritual wellbeing for people living with dementia.

Faith for life: Biblical resources for people with dementia was launched by HammondCare Media in association with Bible Society Australia at St Andrew’s Cathedral in Sydney City on March 20.

‘Faith for life’ is a pioneering new resource designed to help people living with dementia continue in their Christian faith, whether they have a lifetime of tradition or are new to Christianity. ‘Faith for life’ acknowledges the profound dignity of the person with dementia and their desire to express and explore faith while also recognising changing needs.

HammondCare's Head of Pastoral Care, Rev Andrew Nixon, said he was astounded by the quality and practicality of the pastoral aid – the first of its kind in Australia.

“It is long overdue to have a Bible-based resource to help people living with dementia to grow and be encouraged in their spiritual life,” Rev Nixon said.

“The materials are not just beautiful but also high quality and long-lasting. I can attest to their practicality and usefulness with formal or informal pastoral work.

“It affirms our mission at HammondCare to nurture the entire person, including their spiritual needs, as they hold fast to their faith in all seasons of life.”


Authors of Faith For Life: Rebecca Forbes, Linda Barclay, Dana Gruben & Ben Boland

The research-based resource was developed through extensive and ongoing consultation with families, carers and people living with dementia. This included feedback on content, format and even the materials used to produce the resources.

‘Faith for life’ includes dementia-inclusive design such as good contrast, low glare, clear layout and familiar content. From a spiritual perspective, the resources can be used by anyone, regardless of Bible knowledge or faith experience, and caters for people at various stages of their spiritual journey.

‘Faith for life’ also benefits from the expert input of Professor John Swinton, author of the book Dementia: Living in the memories of God and a leading thinker in the realm of ‘disability theology’. “The Bible is a place where we encounter new ways of thinking about ourselves, the world and God. It helps us discover hope and new possibilities in situations where both can seem hard to find,” Professor Swinton said.


Miranda pastoral care coordinator Lois Haultain (right) using the Time with Jesus resource with Thelma Lummis and Thelma’s daughter Heather Stevenson.

“The ‘Faith for life’ materials open up the healing beauty of the Bible in ways that enable people with dementia and those offering care and support, to hold on to God even when the memory of God can seem elusive and difficult.

“This is an important resource for an important group of people,” he said.

The ‘Faith for life’ materials include A4 and A5 cards, devotional books and spiral-bound desktop devotions. The resources feature captivating imagery and themed devotional material including Bible verses, prayers, lines from familiar hymns and in some cases, use of related objects.

HammondCare is a leading not-for-profit provider of dementia and palliative care and research. HammondCare Media is the publishing arm, producing evidence-based books and resources covering dementia, aged care, pain, palliative care and leadership.

Bible Society Australia is part of the United Bible Societies, a global network across 200 countries and territories. Its work includes providing resources, Bible-focused campaigns and community programs as well as publishing, literacy development and youth Bible engagement.

About the authors

Linda Barclay

Linda works in HammondCare’s Policy and Planning Office. From a theological and creative writing background, Linda has spent the past 15 years working for communications organisations in Australia and the UK. Her love of storytelling has led her to explore how we capture and articulate who we are as individuals, communities and organisations. Linda believes finding new ways to open up the stories that are important to people is a fascinating aspect of holistic care.

Ben Boland

Ben is an aged care chaplain who passionately promotes and resources the gospel for older people. He regularly writes and speaks about aged care ministry, including contributing to aged care spirituality publications. He is currently writing an MA project at Moore College about developing a theology of older people with specific reference to sexuality.

Rebecca Forbes

Rebecca is a projects coordinator in HammondCare’s Policy and Planning Office. During her seven years in the aged and dementia care field she has been involved in significant policy, research and service development, as well as planning and coordinating specialist carer training programs. Rebecca says working alongside carers and finding creative ways to support them is one of the best parts of her job.

Dana Gruben

After earning undergraduate degrees in nursing and religion/ethics, Dana began her working life in neurosurgical nursing. Coming to Australia, she pursued further work and qualifications in neuro nursing, followed by additional studies in health administration, theology, ageing and pastoral care. Dana has worked in aged care chaplaincy, where she partnered with Ben Boland in developing a Christian Spiritual Reminiscence Program, and is currently involved in medical practice management.

Faith for life product information (published and in production):

Jesus loves me – A5 Discovery books by Ben Boland and Dana Gruben

Time with Jesus – A4 Devotional books by Linda Barclay and Rebecca Forbes

Textures of God’s love, Words of hope and God is so good - A4 and A5 Devotional cards by Linda Barclay and Rebecca Forbes

Yesterday, Today, Forever – A4 desktop A-frame Devotional by Linda Barclay and Rebecca Forbes

Further products including customisations and technology enhancements are planned for 2018-2019.

For review copies, photos, extracts and to arrange an interview with the authors or families who helped develop Faith for Life - please contact Pete Hallett: M: 0418 532 585 or E: phallett@hammond.com.au.

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