The Advantages of an On-Site Chaplain
Wesbury’s Christian roots run deep. Over a century ago, we were founded by the ministers and laymen of the Erie Conference of the United Methodist Church, and caring for the body, mind, and spirit has been a cornerstone of our mission. Wesbury’s history is steeped in the spiritual support of many ministers and chaplains serving residents and their families.
While many healthcare facilities have moved away from having an in-house Pastoral Care Program run by an onsite Chaplain in favor of visiting clergy and congregation members to meet the needs of those living in care environments, at Wesbury, it remains a top priority. We are blessed with an engaging, compassionate and very approachable Chaplain, Rev. Sam Marchetta.
The primary difference between a pastor and a chaplain is that a chaplain is trained to provide non-denominational ministry to support a resident or a patient on his or her faith journey. It is a resident-centered ministry where the chaplain serves to work alongside a resident’s local clergy if at all possible. The ministry of chaplaincy is both specific in training and broader than a pastor and specifically focuses to a certain age group and setting in which they reside. Spiritual needs that arise can include everything from loss of meaning and purpose to frustrations with an illness, loneliness, guilt, and shame. These frustrations can lead many residents to ask questions regarding their faith: “Where is God in all of this?”; “If God is good, why do these things keep happening?”; “Why am I still here?” or “God must be getting back at me for what I did in the past?”
Families are unlikely to use the term spiritual distress, but that doesn’t mean that they are not experiencing it. Spiritual struggle is always revealed as a change of loss and meaning and trying to reconstruct what is purposeful.
At Wesbury, we address these needs under the direction of Rev. Sam Marchetta, Director of Pastoral Care. We also have trained eight Stephen Ministers under his guidance who provide friendly visitation and active listening for residents who desire additional support. This group is made up entirely of other Wesbury residents who are required to keep confidentiality.
According to Rev. Sam, they make available a variety of advantages for Wesbury residents, their families, staff, and volunteers alike, “Being a staff member myself, my relationships in the Nursing and Life Enrichment Departments can provide me with alerts on which residents are struggling and in need of spiritual support. It can lead to me or a Stephen Minister’s interactions and individualized focus through visitations, chapel services, weekly devotionals, Bible Studies, and prayer times. This is uniquely entrenched in the life of our community.”
Numbers from The Impact of Professional Spiritual Care
- 70% of patients want at least one visit from a chaplain.
- 71% of patients want chaplains to offer support to family and friends.
- 62% of patients want chaplains to pray or read scripture or sacred texts.
- 78% of patients want chaplains to remind them of God’s care and presence.
- 69% of patients want chaplains to be with them during times of particular anxiety or uncertainty.
- 39% of patients want chaplains to counsel them regarding moral or ethical concerns or decisions.
“It’s an incredible and unique blessing to work in an environment where God is welcome in the workplace, support is available to staff and prayer is offered at meals and sometimes before leadership meetings.” notes Melissa Porter, VP of Sales and Marketing. “But what’s more, is knowing our residents have support whenever needed. Often senior years are a time in life when our need for spirituality reaches a peak and yet the availability of it is challenging. I love that Wesbury values and fulfills this need, and our church services are packed!”