Reaching Out to Care Homes


Author: Ruth Preston

Jenny is in her eighties and lives in a sheltered housing residential home. She has a strong faith in Jesus and has always attended church, but always felt shy about talking to her friends about her beliefs. The local church started to visit the communal lounge once a month with an afternoon of fun to build relationships with the residents in response to local reports around loneliness.

After two years, the church set up a monthly group in the lounge using the ‘Brain and Soul Boosting’ resource from Pilgrims’ Friend Society. Jenny, although shy at first, began overtime to share her faith with others and publicly praise God in the times of prayer. For the others in the group, the resource was a great springboard to communicate the gospel and was a safe place to be vulnerable, built on the strong foundation of friendships built over time.

Church members moving into a care home may feel isolated and cut-off from the fellowship of the church; it is common for members to feel forgotten and abandoned when they move into a care home. Arranging for regular visitors, including members in church activities and involving them in meetings and decisions about church life, are all ways in which the church can help those living in care homes to remain active in the fellowship and maintain a valued contribution to church life.

Ministry and pastoral care to people living in care homes can be undertaken by many members of a Christian faith organisation – it does not have to be only the remit of the leadership team or pastoral care team. Indeed, this ministry can be intergenerational – involving a wide range of age groups from the church; it can involve single visitor support or small team ministries. Care home residents can be encouraged and enabled to attend church services, events, and regular activities; church groups can be facilitated to provide outreach and teaching to those living in care homes – e.g. small services held in the home, bible study, or prayer groups, children and young people visiting to sing, perform small plays or simply read or talk to residents.

National Schemes to Support Those Living in Care Homes

There are several national schemes to promote the pastoral & spiritual support of people living in care homes:

Care Home Friends

Care Home Friends is a Christian organisation that exists to support churches in making links with local care homes. They work to facilitate churches to ‘adopt’ local care homes, with trained volunteers spending time and building friendships with residents and developing good community and neighbourhood relationships between church and care homes (www.


The Methodist Homes Association

The Methodist Homes Association employ Care Home Chaplains who regularly visit residents in care homes, building up relationships and getting to know the life experiences and interests of the residents, in order to better meet their spiritual and pastoral needs. (


Anna Chaplaincy

Anna Chaplaincy promotes the support of local churches with regular visits to residents in care homes and the provision of small religious services to offer spiritual and pastoral support to those living in care homes (


Pastoral Action in Residential Care Homes for the Elderly

Old man sitting on benchPARCHE (Pastoral Action in Residential Care Homes for the Elderly) is a church-based ministry of Christian teams who visit care homes to bring fellowship, comfort, bible-teaching, communion, and friendship to the elderly living in care homes (


How Church Can Provide Pastoral Support

Here are some ideas for churches to provide pastoral support to those living in care homes:

  • Identify and understand the services of local care homes in the neighbourhood.
  • Meet with the managers and staff of local care homes, to hear how the church can help
    them in meeting the spiritual and pastoral needs of residents.
  • Break down the barriers and dispel the myths and fear of care homes through fostering good relationships between church and local care homes.
  • Ensure that every church member living in a care home is visited regularly and kept informed and involved in church activities and decisions.
  • Invite and include care home residents to church services and regular activities.
  • Offer practical support to residents who may wish to attend church, e.g. care, transport.
  • Identify opportunities for church members to engage with local care homes – visiting,
    befriending, holding small services.
  • Involve church groups in ministering to residents in care homes – e.g. bible study, prayer
    groups, youth and children groups visiting, nativity play performance, singing.
  • Identify a pastoral lead for ministry to local care homes – to liaise with care homes, co-ordinate pastoral support and links with the church.


© Professor Keith Brown from ‘Guidance for Christian Faith Organisations in the Support and Value of Older People’.