Our daughter Angela is a caregiver to an elderly lady who is largely unable to care for herself. This lady lives alone and has various caregivers at different times of the day. Angela does duty in the afternoons. The lady is at the stage where she cannot get herself from the wheelchair onto the toilet and will, God willing, very soon be transferred to a facility where she will have all the care required.
Leading up to this, when a facility became available, she was reluctant to accept the placement. Angela spent time counselling her and praying with her. Soon thereafter, she accepted the opportunity. There are different stages of care needed for people who are handicapped or disabled (this is also true for people with dementia, autism etc.). In this note I am referring to people who are handicapped, disabled, or struggling with the progressive illness of some form.
Personal Home Unassisted Living
We have a lovely friend in her 80’s who has been wheelchair-bound for several years due to the degeneration of her bone structure. She is very determined and largely self-sufficient. Her late husband set up the house in such a way that she can do everything in the kitchen … be it cooking, washing up and packing away. She enables herself to use the bathroom and shower, make her bed, dress, etc. It is quite phenomenal to see her in action. To attend church or to do shopping, her son or grandson takes her in her motorcar. Even at her age and with her disability, she copes extremely well.
This is where a person is given tenancy in their own self-contained flat or unit. Such a person can use the toilet, eat, switch on the TV, use the telephone and even do a little bit of cleaning by themselves. In other words, they can fulfil the necessities and requirements of living alone. What is needed is someone to pack out their tablets and make sure they take it, make sure there is food and maybe cook the food, arrange doctors’ appointments, check on the cleanliness of person or accommodation, take the person shopping etc.
This facility provides for people who have individual tenancies. This means that they have a home of their own and will benefit from a greater level of autonomy as far as their environment is concerned. These are people who need help with daily living activities but do not require nursing home care. Typically they provide help with meals, bathing, dressing, housekeeping, and other needs. The staff team will support them and will create the kind of living environment that best meets their needs as far as design, lighting, and ambience are concerned. People in supported living are encouraged to maximise their independence.
Residential Home Living
In this environment, both accommodation and personal care are provided. Meals are included and 24-hour support will be available from a specialist team who are trained to the required level. Although people who live in residential care will have their bedroom, many other facilities are shared between residents, such as living rooms, dining rooms and kitchen. Normally, medical services are available.
Nursing Home Living (Frail Care Living)
Such living is for people who require around the clock care and monitoring. Very little is done by such people and they could be termed, patients. Nursing staff are on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Temperature, pulse, heart rate and other measurements are taken at regular intervals. My grandmother (on my mom’s side) was in such a facility for the last ten years of her life as she was bedridden.
These different stages of care make me think of the Christian as he or she grows and develops in spiritual maturity.
Firstly, there is the inquirer. This is the person who starts to show an interest in the Gospel and things of God. This person needs gentle and tender care, monitoring their spiritual understanding.
Secondly, there is the person who surrenders their heart and life to live under Jesus’ rule. Naturally, this person requires patience as they grapple with the huge change in their life (from darkness to life).
Thirdly is the transition from “milk” to “solids” (1 Cor 2:2 “I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it”). The writer to the Hebrews was quick to pick up on the milk/solid food when he writes:
Heb 5:11 We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. 12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
Sometimes, the transition to solids might take a long period depending on the eagerness of the individual to grow spiritually. Once “solids” are eaten, maturity starts to speed up to where good chunks of Scripture can be devoured in one sitting.
Tit 1;9 He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it
Although Paul writes about an overseer to Titus, every maturing Christian ought to hold firm, encourage others and refute opposition. However, each stage of Christian development requires care. The mature need to help the immature (or new believers). This requires pastoral care from pastors, church council members and mature Christians within the church.
Meditate upon Eph 4:13, Phil 3:15 and James 1:2-4 (especially James 1:4).
Dear Caring Lord Jesus. Give me the heart to grow spiritually and to help those who need spiritual care. Give me the heart to love my Christian family so I will be Your hands, feet, mouth, ears and feelings supporting them. Amen.