Spiritual Wellbeing

    There is a growing recognition of the central role that spirituality plays in later life. A person can find comfort and peace when their spiritual needs are met.

    For some, religion is at the heart of their spirituality. For others, it might be in their relationships with themselves or others, or nature.

    Sonas apc is committed to supporting people with dementia’s spiritual needs, and to upskill caregivers with training and resources.

    Lena Cekaite, an Activity Organiser at Clontarf Private Nursing Home on her experience of using Ciúnas and Serenity.

    Sonas and Ciúnas sessions started here once a week, about 6-8 months ago. Residents feel calmer and more peaceful both during and after the sessions. The opportunity to pray and sing hymns together with a group more often than once a month (we have Mass once a month), really enriches their experiences.

    Sessions provide a great sense of community. Sharing with a group for whom they want to pray each time fulfills their sense of belonging. Because they see that they all want to pray for similar things, connects them in a way.

    Residents really look forward to Thursday mornings and Serenity sessions. I use Ciúnas sessions with ladies who are in the late stages of dementia. I can see from their reactions that they recognise hymns and the sound of church bells.

    I have a few residents who are refusing all activities and coming just to Serenity sessions. After every session they are saying that: “It was lovely” or ” It was very nice” Another lady every Thursday morning, when she sees me instead of saying: “Good morning”, she says: “Serenity this morning? I’m really looking forward to this session”


    “This is a transforming session.”

    Mary O’Reilly, Proprietor, Altadore Nursing Home, shares her experience of using Serenity

    Mary adds:

    “We have been running Serenity Spiritual Sessions since the pilot training programme began in the summer of 2008. The benefits in the lives of the residents who participate are multiple. They experience a sense of being uplifted and enriched as they come together singing, discovering, sharing and reflecting in a structured, yet creatively programmed space. The session offers a conscious sense of community, of belonging. For that short period of time we have been friends, pilgrims, advocates in each others lives. We have been supporting and caring for each other. As we go our separate ways we carry a sense of enrichment and gratitude with us.”


    For many older people of Christian denominations, prayer was a regular part of their daily lives and supported their spiritual wellbeing in an ongoing way. With the ageing process, many also find great omfort and reassurance in the prayers and hymns that they learnt in their youth. This is especially true for those who are housebound, in residential care or in hospital.

    Sr Mary Threadgold RSC devised two series of resources as an aid to prayer for people of Christian denominations who, through circumstance or because of memory difficulties, were no longer able to pray independently.


    Serenity Research Project

    This paper reports on a descriptive qualitative study that explored the value and benefit of Serenity Spirituality Sessions programme for older nursing home residents.

    The research was carried out in six nursing homes in the Republic of Ireland. Read the full research paper here.


    Spiritual reminiscence

    An important spiritual task of ageing is to find the final meaning of one’s life. Connecting with the person’s individual story is central to this. Spiritual reminiscence forms an important means of engaging with older people and their life story. The process is tied to the older people finding meaning in their life journey, even in the face of disabilities and loss. It can also be the means of supporting new friendships among isolated older people.

    The difference between the more usual reminiscence therapy and spiritual reminiscence is that the latter is focused on supporting the person to connect with the meaning in their life rather than just connecting with memories.

    The Ciúnas Collection

    Ciúnas is a collection of traditional hymns and prayers for older people of the Catholic tradition. It includes several guided prayer sessions and hymns that will be especially familiar to older people.
    While Ciúnas can support a prayerful experience for any older person, it is an especially useful aid for those for those who are unable to pray because of circumstance or memory difficulties.
    The DVD is based on the soundtrack of the CDs, with images of a religious nature and cenes of natural beauty in Ireland.
    There is also a booklet for caregivers with guidance about how to best use the resources as part of a spiritual care programme in a residential or community setting

    “As Christians, our lives are in balance when we look after our physical, social, intellectual, emotional and spiritual health.” Sr Mary Threadgold RSC, Founder Sonas apc.


    Serenity Spirituality Sessions Boxset

    Serenity spirituality sessions are for older people of any Christian denomination.

    The Serenity Spirituality Sessions boxset is a tool for residential care centres that wish to make Christian spirituality sessions available to residents. The box-set includes CDs, a How to do DVD and booklet, that provides
    guidance to the person who will be facili tating the Serenity Sessions in the centre.

    What happens at a Serenity Spirituality Session?

    Serenity sessions last about 45 minutes and include hymns, prayers, Scripture reading, time to reflect and time to pray for others. The sessions are held in a quiet environment that includes items from nature, such as flowers, leaves, shells, cones or chestnuts.

    There are usually eight participants in a Serenity session. Quiet music is played as they arrive. They are each greeted individually and assured of a welcome. Quality engage- ment with the facilitator is important.
    Church bells signal the beginning of the session. Then each item is introduced on the CD, making the session easy to follow.

    To purchase the serenity box set please click below:

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