St Mary’s Breakfast Discussion: Whose responsibility is it to care for the elderly? (Luke 2:22-40)

Discussion at St. Mary’s Church Garsington on 28th January 2018


Whose responsibility is it to care for the elderly? (Luke 2:22-40)


Biblical views: the patriarchs had many years to learn from their mistakes and develop wisdom!

  • A vision of intergenerational bliss                       Zechariah 8:1-8
  • The rigours of advancing years                            Psalm 71, 1-9, 17-18
  • God will honour old age                                        Isaiah 46, 1-4
  • The unanticipated fruitfulness of age                 Genesis 21:1-7
  • Your old men shall dream dreams                      Luke 2:25-38


Jesus respected the spirit of the Torah that required children to honour and care for their older parents. So what does it mean to be an Intergenerational church (Mark 15:21, Romans 16:13), a loving community in which all are valued.

 “The degree to which a community values people of all ages and ethnicities, and both sexes, recognising and encouraging the gifts of all, offering loving care to all as needed, and making space for joyful celebration together, is a measure of its conformity to the Kingdom of God” (Joanna Collicutt)


 Points arising from the discussion, particularly related to Garsington


The issues raised are relevant not only to elderly people, but also to other people with long-term disabilities which limit their capacity for independent living


General points

  • ‘Can’t legislate for love’ – existing support is often on the basis of pre-existing relationships – but then what about those people without close relationships within the village community
  • It is not possible for the state to meet all needs, and there will be many for whom families are already doing what they can – so there is a gap between need and response
  • There is a tension between the expectations around formal (regulated and paid) care, and informal unpaid care
  • Needs for social contact as well as functional care tasks
  • There are now changed patterns of population movement compared to earlier generations, where it is now the norm for ‘children’ to move away from their parental locality to work and live, so close day-to-day familial support is not as commonly available as before



  • Type of accommodation – the stock of  housing needs to e matched to need, so there is a need for more smaller accommodation, for down-sizing for older people who want to stay in the village
  • Need not only for ‘starter’ homes for young families, but also ‘ender’ or ‘finisher’ homes Village/cluster housing with independent living flats/accommodation sited near communal facilities


 Domiciliary carer schemes

  • In Oxfordshire it appears that it may be impossible to achieve sufficient basic care staff for paid employment as carers, owing to very low unemployment rates in the county, and high vacancy rates for care staff
  • Staff management systems for domiciliary carers impose time limits for each contact, which are not conducive to unhurried contacts
  • Caring is a hard job, with continual physical and emotional demands, but which is low-paid and considered of low status


National, county and local initiatives

  • National organisations: NAVCA appears to be the current name for the national group, with ‘Council for Voluntary Service’ being used for local schemes
  • County organisations: Oxford Diocesan Board of Social Responsibility, Oxfordshire Community and Voluntary Action (OCVA), Oxfordshire Association for Care Providers (OACP – for which Eddy McDowell is the CEO)
  • Past and present initiatives within the village: the Dementia Awareness project, the the Good Neighbours scheme, the monthly Lunch Club, the Voluntary Drivers scheme



  • A Dutch scheme for students/young people living with older people, in exchange for caring/social time with the host.
  • Oxfordshire ageUK have a new scheme called Homeshare Oxford – see website for information
  • Eddy mentioned Warborough as a local example: Shirley Royal knows Caroline King, the vicar, and Caroline will be meeting Shirley at Shirley’s home in Wheatley at 2.15 on Monday the 12th of February



John Hall

29th January 2018