The quality of mercy is not strain’d,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath.
[Shakespeare, The Merchant Of Venice]
I love these words. They speak to me of the constancy of God’s Love.
There is a constancy of God’s Love to which we all have access throughout our lives, a constancy we can choose to express to and with each other on a daily basis.
Through my observations I cannot help but wonder: why do we as a society consistently avoid choosing to express this constancy of love in taking care of our elderly and those in Aged Care facilities?
Speaking regularly with friends who work in Aged Care facilities I find what they share with me deeply disturbing. Although they work in a number of facilities across Australian states, they consistently speak of the same issues:
- Carers working under inordinate time pressures and having to rush breathlessly from patient to patient, without time for a genuinely caring verbal interaction.
- Limited time allocation with each patient in their care so that physical ministrations end up rushed and disregarding of the physical contact taking place.
- Paperwork being complex and onerous and taking valued time away from patient care.
- Carers receiving a low award wage, many without the security of a permanent position. This leads to the carers often devaluing themselves with the net result of low professional and personal self worth and self esteem, with little or no self care taking.
- Frustration with not being able to offer fully the quality of care they can see is needed for their patients.
- ‘End of shift’ exhaustion and, at times, demoralization due to a sense of having accomplished little and not done ‘enough’.
How can a carer truly care for others without self-care and under the conditions outlined here?
Most of our elderly have contributed productively to our society in their working life. As they age, their bodies slow down and become fragile and easily hurt. Working in research for the Department of Geriatric Medicine at a teaching hospital in England, I observed how older people are often worried and afraid about the approach of death and the loss of their loved ones. They are witnessing the passing over of all of their friends. Everything about this life is ending for them.
What do we offer our elderly as they navigate their way through the final phase of life? Is it respectful to offer a perfunctory and rushed quality of care that only maintains their deteriorating bodily functions, executed by stressed fellow human beings under incredible workloads and time pressures?
Is this lack of true care what any of us would wish for ourselves or for our immediate family members? Would we want that for our children when they reach this final stage of life?
What type and quality of care would we, as a collective, like to see for our elderly?
Is it not natural for us to want to offer the following:
- Compassion — understanding with an open heart what is going on for our elderly and allocating the time to allow them to express this clearly, in their own words.
- Gentleness – bathing them and ministering to their physical needs with a tenderness of touch that honours their fragility.
- Dignity and Respect — honouring the life they have lived and offering them support and a respectful autonomy as they make their final choices in this life.
This level of care rarely occurs in our Aged Care facilities for the reasons outlined above and also possibly because of our collective attitudes, fears and beliefs about Ageing and Death.
Is it possible that we may have been quite simply ‘too busy’… and that ‘too busy’ has meant that we may not have taken the time to stop and look deeply into the eyes of a fellow human being, to look past the wrinkles, the lines and the deterioration of the physical body and to deeply connect with this person who has shared a life with us, a life that is now waning?
If we stop however and ponder on the needs of our elderly, we would readily understand that we all want compassion, gentleness, dignity and respect throughout our lives and especially as we age and our bodies wind down to pass on.
Would we not all feel that what is required is a new perspective on Aged Care? After all, do we not all want a loving connection with our fellow human beings?
As we age, do we not all truly want the constancy of God’s Love, which is always available for us to express to each other – through a gentle touch, an open smile, a caring look and the time to share our feelings? Is it not our collective responsibility to speak up about this and let our true feelings be known? Would not our systems then need to re-mould themselves to accommodate our communally articulated expectations on what we consider to be a true and new perspective on aged care?
I feel it is time for the quality of mercy to be determined by us all because ‘the quality of mercy’ lives within us all.
Inspired by the work of Serge Benhayon and Universal Medicine.
Palliative Care Nurse Elizabeth Dolan wins the NSW Health Excellence Award
Death & Dying – A Taboo Topic or a Joyful, Normal Conversation?
We are the instruments of God to offer love to all wherever they are in the cycle of life.
What we as society allow and build during the years, is what we will get in the end and the heritage we let to other generations. Great responsibility we have in observing it as it is and making the changes we know are needed, for us and everyone.
I volunteer at a local cottage hospital where the wards are always under staffed especially at the weekends when I volunteer. But even so I tell the patients they have come to a 5 star hotel as the staff are amazing, the food is edible and hospital itself is kept very clean by the cleaning staff that are very thorough as they chase me round the wards with their mops and buckets of disinfectant. So much so it’s become a game. The patients I talk to all agree it is a jewel in the crown. With all the complaints and bad press that hospitals get this hospital stands out with the amount of care and attention the patients get and also appreciate.
Understanding our life cycle and how passing-over is as important as living from the day we are born, brings in the simplicity about life and how we should approach death so we live to our fullest until our last breath.
‘Carers working under inordinate time pressures and having to rush breathlessly from patient to patient, without time for a genuinely caring verbal interaction.’ This is why everything takes a community, with young, children, teenagers, adults and our elderly. The more we work together the more people there are to support each other. I agree some professions have very stressful jobs (doctors, teachers, nurses, care staff) but if volunteers come in where they can and if we work together and of course make it about people first instead of profit (which in turn makes it about the doctors, nurses, teachers, care staff and supporting them) then life will become easier and maybe just maybe more joyfull!
I have the privilege of meeting a lot of elderly people who come into hospital. And I whole heartedly agree with you Coleen when you say
‘Would we not all feel that what is required is a new perspective on Aged Care? After all, do we not all want a loving connection with our fellow human beings?’
What I love about the hospital I work in is that there is a wealth of volunteers who support the medical team by chatting to the patients and reassuring them, offering the usual Tea and Coffee it works really well because they also feel supported that there are others around who can just sit with someone who feels disorientated or upset by being in hospital so that they can see to other patients. I have noticed a huge difference in the staff because they feel supported too.
What a truly AMAZING job you are doing Mary in volunteering at a hospital ✨ Incredible and much needed
I used to work in the community visiting the elderly in their homes and I too was under the same constraints of time and lack of money or appreciation for what was a considerably sized task. You are working with human beings who want to connect and respond to how another is. If the staff are stressed the client feels it. Connection and compassion go a long way in this line of work, for both client and staff.
From what I see in our community if everyone followed the Universal Medicine model of living as in The Way of The Livingness then aged care would be a distant memory.
Our way of working with the elderly in our community needs to change, the care industry has a high turnover of staff, who often feel rushed and stressed and cannot provide a quaity service to the elderly people that they work with. This is not all supportive for our elders and is a disrespectful way to treat those that are coming to the end of their lives and who need care and support.
Coleen, I can very much relate to what you are sharing in this article. I used to work as a carer for a private company, they would allow a minimum of one hour per visit, I know that the local government visits were 15 minutes, this is barely enough time to say hello and goodbye, let alone, make dinner, wash or dress the elderly clients. The carers I spoke to found it distressing and stressful to have so little time as did the clients.
I visit a friend in a rest home regularly so get such a clear insight into what unfolds within the four walls; and it’s not all great. I know that most of the staff work as lovingly as they can but there is often, a lack of “compassion, gentleness, dignity and respect”, qualities that all of us deserve at every step of our lives, especially as our lives come to an end, often very painfully. There is a big call at present for rest homes to improve their level of care, may it be heeded soon before any more wonderful older people suffer a level of care that is badly lacking in many basic areas.
There is much to consider and unpack in terms of how as a society our elderly are treated and how we treat our elderly, but how each of us approach ageing. It is something that we all do from the moment we are born, we age. But at some point we take on belief systems about who we are when become elderly. I have heard many elderly people say, I am still the same person, just a little older in the body. For some I know it can be quite an isolating time in life. How we move through this is essential for our wellbeing.
I agree. We don’t suddenly wake up and find ourselves elderly. Ageing is a process and one we are equally all responsible for. How we age is a reflection of the relationship we have with ourselves and when we find ourselves in our elder years our livingness is a reflection of the life that has been lived and are living.
When we encounter a true elder, someone who has had much life experience and has accrued authority from a living wisdom we feel safe/r as we feel held. We should have a community full of such people, instead they are rare. Learning to truly value ourselves in the awareness of our worth would ensure that we all age with grace and power, rather than in an inner and outer decline that leaves us disempowered and feeling lack of worth.
As we prepare to pass over, is it that we are simply looking for the constancy of God’s love, we all have access to this throughout our lives, ‘There is a constancy of God’s Love to which we all have access throughout our lives, a constancy we can choose to express to and with each other on a daily basis.’
I’ve been reading how some care homes these days have nursery school age children visit them. The old people delight in the young children, because they are treated like people, not as old people. Young children interact with them freely and both gain from the experience. A win win.
“There is a constancy of God’s Love to which we all have access throughout our lives, a constancy we can choose to express to and with each other on a daily basis.” We all have a responsibility to share a constancy of love with each other at whatever stage in life.
I recognise this fear of passing over in the elderly people that I meet. But then. sometimes there are those who have decided to embrace this fact of their own passing and to simply let the process be.
Through working and volunteering in this sector for some time, I have to agree that many carers lives have no self care in at all, and I will go as far as to say there is abuse in the lives of some of these carers, ‘low professional and personal self worth and self esteem, with little or no self care taking.’
Yes as a society we have tended to become more segregated into separate phases of life which ignores how much different generations have to offer to each other. Finding ways to keep our elders in the community rather than locking them away in separate facilities has to be the way forward.
Choosing to express the constancy of God’s love is only possible when we commit to taking care of ourselves within whatever we are doing and the pressures on carers can often be so overwhelming that they lose sight of the reason that they chose to care in the first place. Until we as a society are willing to invest in true care for the elderly and those caring for them the situation is only likely to deteriorate.
So many service industries are not regarded as being that important and the rates of pay reflect that, such as in child care, aged care and the hospitality industry generally, including the hospital and education sectors. When we as a society truly value those being cared for society will change for the better.
This is a heart-warming blog to read Coleen. For the past two years, I have been blessed with being ‘hands on’ and overseeing carers regularly visiting an elderly relative. The functional duties of care can be carried out well, but it is very obvious when there is a missing element of an innermost connection and self-love with themselves. This plays out with the person being cared for feeling frustrated, diminished, disrespected and in reaction to being told what to do. This has offered an ongoing opportunity to consistently deepen presence with my own body and hold others in love and simply observe the miracles in the changes in quality of care continue to unfold in the care teams.
“I feel it is time for the quality of mercy to be determined by us all because ‘the quality of mercy’ lives within us all.”
Compassion, gentleness, dignity and respect should be available to everyone at any point in their lives – everyone deserves that and we need to raise our standards so we begin to treat everyone this way.
And from this way — we start to realize that from the quality of honoring our essence, is the greatest respect we can have for ourselves and each other.
Absolutely Meg, the standard of care for those in aged care needs to be raised, ‘As we age, do we not all truly want the constancy of God’s Love, which is always available for us to express to each other – through a gentle touch, an open smile, a caring look and the time to share our feelings? ‘
Whilst living in this plane of life our Soul does not change its quality, it is only our body that is enhousing our Soul that changes and reflects the quality of Soulfulness that we are willing to live, at any age. Hence there is, until our very last breath, the opportunity to deepen and live the power, wisdom, sacredness and joy of our connection to our Soul as best we can regardless of our age. Granted our bodies do deteriorate and we do need support and care however the point being that this care and support needs to honor the fact the person within is the same as all of us, only the body has aged.
Absolutely appreciating the beauty of each one of us regardless of age or physical deterioration is crucial when providing loving support for our elders.
One of the greatest lies society has fallen for is the lie that life is less important as we age, at every age we have an opportunity to have and to express more love and more joy and more beauty.
It certainly does expose that fact that segregation is still a huge and grossly controlling part of our society.
As we grow older and are facing this life coming to an end it is natural for many fears of what happens next to arise. The move to an aged care facility can be quite traumatic for many as they feel they are one step closer to dying and are not too sure what exactly is going to happen to next. Each and every person in this phase of their lives deserves the best possible care, a constant honouring of the beautiful being they are and deeply loving support as their life draws to a close. After all isn’t that what we would want for ourselves and every other member of humanity?
As I read this I felt how different our whole world would be, if we each committed to constantly offer ourselves, and equally all others, compassion, gentleness, dignity and respect. If we don’t live with those qualities first, then there’s no way we can offer it to others with integrity. That’s not to say we need to have something nailed before we attempt to live it with someone else – partly because there is nothing to nail or get perfect, but also because life itself is a work in progress: a constant unfoldment of learning and evolution.
I agree Bryony, it starts with self first, living with the qualities of compassion, gentleness, dignity and respect, only then we can share and bring these qualities to all others.
There is something so simple expressed here – all we are looking for is the constancy of God’s love as we prepare to pass over and re-enter His embrace. That is what we should offer, as the groundwork in preparing for passing over so the person is in the best possible vibration to meet its maker.
What if our life responsibility was to understand the cycle of birth and death so that when we re-incarnate our foundation is secured because we pass-over with no regrets! “Is it not our collective responsibility to speak up about this and let our true feelings be known?”
I have worked for many years in Aged care facilities, and have experienced the conditions that you write about Coleen, the system definitely need a complete overhaul, but when money and greed are at the forefront then nothing will change, a new model needs to be presented, one that brings quality of care first and foremost along with self care being a part of the regime for the workers.
Jill that’s a great point about money and greed and nothing changes if that remains at the forefront. Also at the forefront is quality of care for everyone – staff residents and families and also the value everyone is held in. Because someone has dementia and is needing to be in an aged care facility how do we treat them as people? We need to undo a great deal so that we rebuild with a solid foundation of care, respect, dignity and decency. So that we not only understand what these qualities are but that embody them to the best of our ability.
I don’t understand the concept of mercy but wholeheartedly agree with the rest of your assessment.
Agreed Gabriele, mercy seemingly comes with pity and we will one day understand we are all responsible for all we are experiencing so that we can learn to addressing our issues so when we re-incarnate we can be clear because we have dealt with our ill ways.
I have heard from those who work in aged care about the physical tolls on their body of having to lift people etc and that there is not sufficient support for them. It is easy to see how hard on the body this would be and why we need more people working together in this area to really bring the quality of care to the elderly.
Recently I saw a video recording of a care home having visitors every Monday from the local children’s’ nursery. Both the children and the elderly loved getting together, and the health improved within the elderly attendees. We need to learn from this – it’s a no-brainer that everyone thrives from having interaction with other people, young and old.
Having a mother who worked in the elderly care industry as a nurse for over 30 years gave me some insight into this area of medicine. From her experience it certainly seemed that the nursing homes she worked at were putting profit above people and not only were they not honouring of the residents, the schedules and workload placed on the nurses created an overload situation that lead to bickering amongst the nurses out of a continued pushing through exhaustion. At least that was her experience, but one that I feel is very common in this field. As Coleen said, all we have to do is put ourselves in the position of the elderly person and how we would want to be treated in order to change this system. But that would mean we also have to look at the fact that we are going to die someday too!
Could it be that the whole care system needs to be looked into and changed? Pre-natal-care, child-care, self-care, aged-care, palliative-care all fit into the same model where someone is dictating the terms and there is no true understanding from ‘go-to-wow.’ So we end up with a push or drive that serves no one and is debilitating for all concerned. If we start with pre-natal-care from being self-caring this would take us on the path of be self-loving before we get to loving-care. Loving-care sets a true bar that is simple to follow as we are all naturally self-nurturing beings and by following simple loving rhythms we would all benefit in every aspect of life.
And we do know, that the way a society treats its elderly as a reflection upon the quality and integrity of that society
The quality we see in our elderly should be seen for the amazing people they are so that they pass-over in full connection to their inner-most essence.
A new perspective in aged care is much needed with a true compassion and understanding for ourselves firstly to be offered to all no matter what our age but espcially in later years to be held with the gentleness, delicacy and sensitivity we are. “As we age, do we not all truly want the constancy of God’s Love, which is always available for us to express to each other – through a gentle touch, an open smile, a caring look and the time to share our feelings?” beautiful Coleen .
Absolutely agree Coleen – a new perspective is definitely required for Aged Care. From experience I have seen the effect on older people from well-intentioned-super-busy carers rushing in and rushing out like express trains and banging around in the kitchen to throw some food together for the person to eat – simply another number in the numerous calls to be done within their shift time..
It unsettles the older people deeply and leaves them feeling exhausted and uncared for as well as the carer drained at the end of their day.
The way we connect with others is as important to their wellbeing as any medical care one can receive and plenty of research backs this up. The way we communicate is healing or harming. I know several people working in aged care and the stories they tell me are shocking. I’ve even heard of facilities in which staff are unable to share any human aspects of themselves (such as the type of family they have, the suburb they live etc.) with patients as this is labelled ‘too personal’. Nobody wants to end up in aged care because we all know how horrendous it is despite the best efforts of many dedicated staff. These facilitates are currently being used as money makers rather than offering any true care and it makes them very difficult to live or work in.
Awesome Colleen you are correct in saying a new perspective is needed. Universal Medicine has a very successful Aged Care model that ticks all the boxes. They do because of our loving all involved live – they live holding themselves with dignity, respect, compassionate and gentleness hence a clearer perspective is naturally warranted.
I have also seen recently investors are seeing Aged Care as a very lucrative business taking all the aged funds with the results being for the investors with little quality of care offered. We need to speak out and expose these crooks. We are all accountable to save our world ?
A profound and inspiring article Coleen. In my experience of observing and interacting with various care agencies and hospitals over the past year, the staff are under huge stress with time constraints, lack of staff and sometimes an inability to simply be present with patients – this is very detrimental to the elderly under their care.
As babies we are held precious and tender, as children we teach resilience, teens and 20’s theres the ‘bulletproof’ mentality that reduced that tenderness. Then after a long life of lacking in care for ourselves and others it gets to the point of being alien to that preciousness. Our current aged care stems from a lifetime of stepping away from that preciousness we hold babies in. At any age we are worth caring for and starting early will change how we treat the elderly from an outside perspective and from within as we age.
I have met some very caring and dedicated ladies who work very hard and do demonstrate having their clients best interests at heart, even though the system at times seems to work against them. One of the latest inventions is zero contracted hours – this to me shows lack of appreciation for the carers and the work they choose to do. Let’s face it not everyone would want to do care as a career choice, and with the ageing population, they will be needed more than ever before.
This is a conversation that needs to be brought to our communities, local, state and federal governments. There are some amazing people that work in these homes caring for our loved ones, but they need more support and time to be able to care in the way they really want to, not under pressure to work quickly, but instead to work efficiently, with care and respect. A paradigm of change that is needed.
If we were to value the fact that the quality of energy with which we pass over (‘die’) with determines the quality of energy in which we will be born the next time around, we would not allow such travesty to take place with our elderly. We are unwittingly causing great harm to our future generations by not tending with great care to the previous ones.
So very true, we do a grave disservice to all of humanity by not treating all with the care and respect that is deserving of all, and as our elderly are the ones that are passing sooner (as a general rule) it is imperative that we begin to again value the reality of reincarnation.
“There is a constancy of God’s Love to which we all have access” God is never too busy to love all equally, even if we choose to be too busy to be aware of the constant love that is flowing through us all.
We frequently hear people say that they want to avoid going into a home but the reality is that most will end up in one and yet no-one is addressing the many issues that lead to a lack of true care within them which is ultimately felt by all. It is not just those living in such facilities that are affected by this lack of care – we all are and is this not a reflection of how so many are living outside of homes without care and compassion for themselves and others.
When we have a foundation of self care and appreciation in our society , then every level and every age will be celebrated and nurtured.