Fulfilling Elderly’s Wish of Revisiting Church
In residential home, sometimes we may be too focused in taking care of the physical needs of weak elders and forget their hearts also need nourishment. This issue of Special features Uncle Fong, a resident in Salvation Army Tak Tin Residence for Senior Citizens – with the help of the Army’s project Palliative Care in Residential Care Homes for the Elderly (the Project), his residential home and his family, Uncle Fong had one long-awaited wish fulfilled.
Uncle Fong became an orphan in young age and was raised by adopted parents. In the old days when the society was not affluent, Uncle Fong had been going to church with his adopted parents to obtain materials and it was how he got to know about Christian faith and later became a devoted Christian. He had been going to church meetings until his health deteriorated and moved into residential home. After that it has become more difficult for him to go out regularly for church, and he keeps his spiritual practice mainly through the residential home’s religious activities. Once an old friend from the church paid him a visit and asked if he was interested in joining a church meeting, giving him an idea to revisit the church that he was once so close and familiar. In December 2018, the colleagues from the Project held a talk on life and death education in Uncle Fong’s residential home. The aim of the talk is to encourage residents to make active planning of their late life and take action to fulfil their wishes to make life regretless. Uncle Fong told the colleagues his wish of revisiting church and when his residential home learnt about it, they referred Uncle Fong, after obtaining the consent from his family, to the ‘fulfilling your wishes’ services of the Project, and all parties worked together to help Uncle Fong to revisit his church.
Uncle Fong’s activities are limited by his physical conditions and is wheelchair-bound, and with high blood pressure and chronic illness such as kidney disease, it was not sure if his body was fit enough to allow him to go back and forth the church and participate in the meeting. Our colleagues first asked the nurse and physiotherapist of the residential home to conduct an assessment on Uncle Fong’s body condition and were happy that the results were satisfying. This cleared the concern of Uncle Fong’s family and gained their full support for the plan. Our colleagues also contacted Uncle Fong’s church in advance and obtained a good understanding of the meeting rundown and whether the building where the church is located was equipped with barrier-free facilities.
Everything was ready and the date of Uncle Fong’s visit was set, but the plan was set back since Uncle Fong needed to go to hospital suddenly – it was never certainly easy for elderly to get their wishes fulfilled even the wishes may seem simple and easy. Fortunately, Uncle Fong was discharged from hospital soon later, and after another round of physical check and assessment, on 19 May 2019, with the company of our colleagues and his family, Uncle Fong went to his church once again. He said he was so excited he couldn’t sleep the night before!
Leaving no regrets
This ‘trip’ to church was not easy, everyone including the colleagues from the residential home and the Project, Uncle Fong’s family and the friends in church treated it with great importance. When Uncle Fong arrived, his friends from church who had not met him for years all gathered around him to greet him and send their regards; the colleague who pushed the wheelchair-bound Uncle Fong into the venue had to stop every two steps. There was even a long queue as so many friends wanted to take photos with him. The warm and enthusiastic reception of his friends was so unforgettable for Uncle Fong, ‘I met many familiar faces that day. They prayed for me and we took photos together. I was so happy!’
The spiritual atmosphere in the church and connection with church members brought Uncle Fong back to the days when he went worship and praying in church, and on that day he enjoyed a meaningful Sunday worship. ‘In the past I could go back to church whenever I wanted. Now in old age my activity is restricted and cannot always go to places that I want to go, so I treasured this visit very dearly!’
It has been two years since the visit and he still thinks about that day from time to time. Bobby Chan, team leader of the Army’s project ‘Palliative Care in Residential Care Homes for the Elderly’, believes it is very meaningful for many elderly to revisit places that are special to them and the visit can complete their lives. Families can also strengthen the bond and create new beautiful memories with elderly by revisiting those places of special memory together. We hope Uncle Fong’s story can inspire more of us to care more about the needs of body, mind and soul of elderly.
The Salvation Army Palliative Care in Residential Care Homes for the Elderly
Sponsored by “la Caixa” Foundation and The Bank of East Asia Charitable Foundation Limited, the Project aims to develop palliative care services for elderly both in residential homes and in general public. We need volunteers who are interested in elder care to support our ‘fulfilling your wishes’ services, whose aim is to help physically weak elderly to fulfil their wishes and create memorable experiences through outings or special activities. You are welcome to scan the QR code and fill in the registration form so that we can contact you with latest volunteer training information or other related service news. You can also follow the news of the Project through the following social media platforms:
For more stories：https://salvationarmy.org.hk/information-centre/publications/army-scene/