Skip to main content

Resthaven Marion (SA)

Township Road Marion SA

Spirituality in the Garden

Residential - Metropolitan - 80 beds/Consumers or more

Award descriptors

  • Consumer engagement and/or co-design
  • Health and wellbeing
  • Leadership and culture

Establishing the ‘Spirituality in the Garden’ gatherings in consultation with residents – combining spirituality, worship, aspects of mindfulness through meditation, and appreciation of nature.

About this program

The organisation employs Coordinating Chaplains to meet residents’ pastoral care needs and promote spiritual health and wellness. In December 2015, a new Coordinating Chaplain was appointed at the residential home. With a new chaplain, a review of the home’s spiritual services was conducted.

At the time of the Chaplain’s appointment, the numbers of residents attending the weekly ‘Chaplain’s Chat’ bible group had reduced to six attendees. He recognised there was opportunity to introduce a more inclusive approach, with spirituality, rather than religion, as the focus. In consultation with the home’s Lifestyle Coordinators and the Manager, the Chaplain desired to move beyond a more "formal" worship experience of hymns, prayers, readings and chats and wanted to develop a more inclusive spirituality concept that could be embraced by the residents.
Participating members of the current spiritual programs, and non-participating residents were consulted and were receptive to the concept of moving beyond the more ‘formal’ worship services which included bible readings, hymns and prayer.

In consultation with residents, the Manager and Lifestyle Coordinators, the Chaplain developed a two–session trial program called ‘Spirituality in the Garden’ that was held in the home’s newly redeveloped gardens in April 2016. Resident attendance numbers at the first two trial sessions exceeded those attending previous traditional services, with 26 attendees at the first session, and 32 at the second.

The program was further refined following the release of the National Guidelines for Spiritual Care in Aged Care in July 2016, as the guidelines supported and further guided the framework of the sessions. The gatherings are now a permanent feature of the Chaplain’s spiritual care program. Attendance numbers have grown to average between 40 to 60 per session and has the added bonus of boosting social connections between residents.

Residents report benefiting from the ‘garden gatherings’, which combine expressions of traditional Christian worship, aspects of mindfulness through meditation and appreciation of nature. Residents appreciate engaging in this informal spiritual expression, which responds to the needs of residents seeking an expanded expression of spirituality and quality of life alongside traditional expressions of religious worship.

The spiritual life of residents continues to grow, with an expansion to the program of a regular weekly morning spirituality ‘silent’ walk in the Warrawee garden, concluding with a discussion of any themes that may have arisen out of the walk—from either sights, sounds or thoughts experienced.

This program is uniquely special and innovative in the way it was designed and in its achievements. The residents drove the development of the initiative in collaboration with the Coordinating Chaplain and Lifestyle Coordinators- thus it has been a co-designed initiative. Through their inputs and feedback, residents were active in sharing the way in which the program was conceived, delivered and refined.  The program enables meaningful connections for residents with the natural world and with each other all within the context of mindfulness and their personal spirituality and indeed, for those who express no sense of spirituality it is equally as enriching.

More information about this program

Tina Cooper at or call (08) 8373 9079

Friday, 21 December 2018 - 6:25am