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About the Research

The Elder Care Project involved research and education related to the pastoral care of elderly people across the Diocese of Christchurch within the contexts of both independent living in the community and residential care.  The project was funded through a generous donation from the Selwyn Foundation given to the Diocese of Christchurch in 2011 and was located within the context of the following: 


  • Diocesan wide strategic planning begun in 2009 which recognised the “growing older demographic” who need “pastoral care and intentional inclusion”. 

  • Earthquake responses by Anglican Care agencies particularly Anglican Living (formerly known as Anglican Aged Care) which had lost a significant proportion of its residential care capacity.

  • Earthquake responses by parishes as they worked with older parishioners moving temporarily or permanently away from their damaged homes, coping with increased anxiety and financial insecurity.

  • Earthquake recovery as parishes considered building repair/replacement and ministry/mission imperatives: vital parishes were seen as those who could grow “the depth and richness of Anglican discipleship for all ages and stages” and nurture “people into new faith, young through to old” (my emphases).

  • Ten years of experience of and feedback from offering courses in ‘Pastoral Care of Ageing People’ in this diocese – courses which had been well-supported but with attendance limited in some places by issues of cost and travel.

  • Questions raised by the bishop of the diocese (in January 2011 and following) regarding pastoral care provided by parishes to those members beginning to experience limited mobility or other impairments which prevent them from participating fully in the life of their faith community.  We noted that NZ statistics from 2006 showed that 93 percent of people 65 and older lived in private dwellings not residential care. 




In addition to the specific disaster response focus, the research element of the Project aimed:

  1. to examine how elderly people living at home and beginning to experience limited mobility were cared for pastorally within and by parishes across the diocese,

  2. to survey the involvement of parishes with private residential care facilities in their local area in relation to providing spiritual and pastoral care for residents,

  3. to identify resources, training and support further required by lay and ordained leaders within this area of mission and ministry,

  4. to describe some of the new initiatives church communities were exploring in the area of elder care as we look forward to an ageing demographic in society.



The emphasis in every stage of the project was to be on a collaborative exploration which educated and affirmed all those involved.  As research done within the context of the Christian community it was right and proper that the whole project be characterised by koinōnia  “with its connotation of deeply supportive relationships ...”[1].


    [1] Harkness, A. (2008). Assessment in Theological Education: Do our Theological Values Matter?  Journal of Adult Theological Education, 5(2), 183-201.



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