Whether it be providing companionship, patiently listening to a resident’s story, responding to a need for the relief of distress or providing emotional support – aged care chaplains are worth their weight in gold.
One great example is Ipswich’s Jack Teepa.
A popular and colourful character, Teepa is well known around the Carinity Colthup Manor aged care community for his distinctive moustache and lively clothes.
In fact, he has a rainbow’s worth of brightly coloured outfits in his closet.
“I wear the colourful shirts and jackets to brighten up the place and bring smiles to the faces of the residents and staff,” Teepa says.
“They think it’s great.”
The jovial expat Kiwi is also revered for his friendly smile, infectious personality and dedication to supporting seniors, honed during 34 years as a chaplain.
His extensive career as a pastoral carer began in New Zealand and has included chaplaincy roles in schools, hospitals, the defence force, private business, government departments and prisons.
“When I began ministering at Gisborne Central Baptist Church, the local meatworks was looking for a new chaplain,” Teepa recalls.
“I was invited to train for the position [and later] other chaplaincy roles then opened to me.”
Teepa porceeded to undertake chaplaincy roles in schools and prisons and with New Zealand’s tax department and territorial force.
His decade as a military chaplain with the New Zealand Army included a two-year rotation to Bosnia in the mid-1990s with a United Nations peacekeeping force.
After moving to Queensland, Teepa become the first chaplain to serve at Staines Memorial College in Springfield.
He has been chaplain at Carinity Colthup Manor aged care for the past seven years.
“My role entails a wide variety or pastoral care including devotions, praying with groups and individuals, leading church services, spending time with residents and families, and joining in the regular and special activities provided for the residents,” he says.
“I also listen to staff when they want to discuss their issues.
“The thing I most enjoy about the role is contributing to making Colthup Manor a happy and safe place.”
Carinity’s chaplaincy coordinator for Hospitals and Aged Care, Greg Murphy, described Jack as a “humble bloke and a very hard worker” who is “unflappable, capable, dedicated, thoughtful and relaxed”.
“Jack has a quiet confidence about him that helps him to form friendships with new residents almost instantly.
“He can draw from his experience in a number of different ministry contexts… which helps him to develop positive caring relationships with both staff and residents,” Murphy says.
“Colthup Manor is indeed fortunate to have someone like Jack around to help them navigate the ups and downs of an aged care environment.”
While the ages of the people Jack has supported in various guises as a chaplain vary significantly, he believes all chaplaincy roles are similar.
“The programs may look different but building relationships, listening, and communicating still form the core of the role,” he says.
“All chaplaincy is important.
“Aged care chaplaincy, for me, is particularly important because older people need to be heard, listened to, acknowledged, respected and valued.
“Rather than feeling they have been relegated to the shelf by being placed in an aged care home, the residents need reassurance that they are still loved and appreciated.”