How welcoming is your parish to older people? Results of our survey

Thank you to everyone who completed our 10-question survey on how they feel their parish welcomes older people, to help us think about where we should focus our future efforts. 

About the survey

Each question asked for a level of agree-disagree response to statements on:

  • Accessibility of buildings
  • Emotional and practical support for older people
  • Intergenerational activities
  • Social and spiritual activities for older people
  • Emotional and practical support for carers
  • Support for people living with dementia, loss or bereavement
  • Demographics of parish volunteers
  • Connections to Care Homes

Each statement also allowed the respondent to include a comment.  The survey’s final question was to ask for one thing their parish could do better to welcome older people.

Response

We had an encouraging response of over 40%.  The depth of engagement offered helpful insight as the majority of respondents added a qualifying comment after each statement.

Results

There was a mainly positive response to the statements which probably is a reflection on views of parish life; a sense of ownership, belonging, mutual caring and spiritual support.  However, the qualifying comments point to an appetite and a need for more coordinated and structured support for older people:

  • Provision is patchy… a parish lottery
  • Lack of systems or processes mean some older people slip through the net
  • Parish responses are more down to the notice of individuals
  • Church stands out as a place where generations mix at Mass, but there’s less evidence of more structured opportunities for support/learning
  • Programmes addressing the spirituality of ageing or taking ageing seriously were not mentioned
  • Not enough structured programmes to help support people in bereavement, or anything specific that helps people cope with the varied losses that can come with long life.

Conclusions and next steps

The response to the survey suggests that, although parish life generally offers a sense of belonging, real ownership, caring and spiritual food, in practice provision is patchy; a parish lottery.  Some older people inevitably ‘slip through the net’ and are most at risk of becoming isolated from their parish at those crisis points that bereavement, chronic health conditions and multiple morbidities present.

We see a need to increase the scale and the scope of our work and we are currently looking at how we fund an expanded programme of work up until April 2022.  If you know of any Charitable Trust funders who might be interested in supporting our expanded programme, we would be so grateful if you could let us know.

If there have been any new developments in your parish, or anything else you would like to share, please email growing.old.gracefully@dioceseofleeds.org.uk .

Thank you again to everyone who took the time to complete our survey.

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