Chaplain Moni Guidon in the Reflection Room, a space she has created in her workplace, at Coffs Haven residential aged care service, in response to the heightened tension among staff and residents during the COVID-19 crisis.

By Emily Ferguson

Staff, residents and visiting relatives at Coffs Haven residential aged care service in Coffs Harbour now have a peaceful place to reflect, pray or talk to someone as the coronavirus crisis continues to unfold.

Moni Guidon, chaplain at Coffs Haven, launched the Reflection Room this week in response to the heightened tension she has sensed in her workplace.

“I have felt an increase in anxiety and stress among staff members in the last two weeks,” she said. “Even the ones who are usually quite calm and happy haven’t been able to engage like they used to. Group activities and pastoral care visits from our eight volunteers have all had to stop, and everyone feels the extra pressure. 

“At the end of one busy workday I sat down in a comfy chair at home to reflect on our current situation and sensed God encouraging me to be prepared and ready for what was to come. Then I had the thought that I’ve got this large, beautiful office space where I could create a reflective space for people to come and sit on their own in reflection or seek help through a one-on-one conversation.”

As it turns out, Moni had already received the training she needed to create this space. In December 2019, she attended disaster recovery chaplaincy training in Grafton, which taught her how to create a welcoming, calm space to help people feel safe during a crisis.

Having gained the “all clear”, Moni ran the idea by her volunteer pastoral carers, one of whom came up with the name Reflection Room. The volunteers are praying for the space, remaining meaningfully connected while unable to be physically present.

“I have set up the space with soft music, candles, pictures, Bible verses, and nice items like a scarf and shells. I emailed key staff at Coffs Haven to let them know about the space and said that if they find anyone who needs help, they can refer them to me. We are going to put up flyers in the different residential houses and I will inform the residents as I go around to visit them one-on-one.

“Even after the first morning, I knew it would work as I had three people who wanted to come and speak with me. One gentleman was in need of a good chat. I could reassure him, pray with him and I could see it really made a difference to him.

“It’s early, early days and it will become even more important to have a space for people to come and talk about what’s going on around them.”

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