Building a worshipping community within a care home setting.
As part of his community ministry within SUTTONfx, Jeff Richards has been offering pastoral support to the residents of Tennyson Grange (formerly known as Gracewell of Sutton) within the parish of St Barnabas, Sutton. The regular pastoral care continued during the pandemic and beyond, and has allowed a worshipping fellowship of over 20 members to develop amongst the residents. SUTTONfx is a member of the Dementia Action Alliance group within Sutton.
The pattern in the care home has shifted during 2022 to a regular monthly service. The service mixes hymns, popular songs, poetry, prayer, and scripture. Its outline is from Common Worship and lasts about 40 minutes. Pastoral visiting takes place weekly on Mondays.
The order of service follows the guidance from Sage and Age UK around Dementia Friendly services. We have between 12 and 20 people for each service.
You can download the examples of orders of service here:
The service is held in either the garden (in fine weather during summer) or in one of the lounges within the home.
In addition to guidance from the diocese about when communion in both kinds can be given, we also follow the care plans for each resident.
The importance of Dementia Friendly worship
Being able to participate in Christian worship can enable older people and people living with Dementia to continue to feel part of their community. A regular pattern of worship allows people with Dementia to engage with and connect to people.
The Christian year can offer a rhythm of life, opportunities for reminiscence, create a feeling of belonging, and provide comfort, answer difficult philosophical questions, and uplift people.
It is hoped that as the impact of the COVID 19 reduces and life and life return to 'normal' that these services can become an intergenerational activity that will; allow children and people living with dementia to interact.
A very useful guide has been created by Livability on being a "Dementia Friendly Church".
Diocesan Safeguarding Team
Tel: 020 3874 6743
The Diocesan safeguarding policy is available at
Action on Elder Abuse Helpline
Tel: 080 8808 8141 (Freephone Monday to Friday 9–5 pm).