Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care Response to COVID-19

An Australian Case Study – The McKellar Centre


  • David A Drummond Barwon Health, Geelong
  • Lindsay B. Carey La Trobe University



aged care, chaplaincy, COVID-19, pastoral care, religion, spiritual care


This article will consider a practitioner’s experience of the impact of COVID-19 on spiritual care within aged care at the McKellar Centre, Barwon Health, Victoria, Australia. Using Sulmasy’s (2002) paradigm, the provision of holistic care will be considered in terms of the physical, psychological, social and spiritual service variations that were necessary in order to continue to provide for the health and wellbeing of the most vulnerable in society – namely those in aged care. The WHO Spiritual Care Intervention codings (WHO, 2017) will be utilized to specifically explore the provision of spiritual care to assist the elderly requesting or needing religious/pastoral intervention. COVID-19 has radically shaped the environment of the McKellar Centre, however, the needs of elderly aged care residents must continue to be met, and this paper seeks to document how that process has been resolved in light of COVID-19. As pandemics are likely to reoccur, future issues for providing spiritual care from a distance, for the benefit of clients, their families, chaplains and health care organizations, will be noted. It must be acknowledged however, that the pandemic impact within Australia (and indeed much of the Oceania region) has been considerably less to that experienced by other regions of the world. Nevertheless, the preparatory and supportive response of spiritual care undertaken at the McKellar Centre speaks to a local response to an international crisis.

Author Biographies

  • David A Drummond, Barwon Health, Geelong

    Rev. David Drummond, MCounsel., is the Spiritual Care Coordinator at the McKellar Centre, Geelong, Victoria, Australia.

  • Lindsay B. Carey, La Trobe University

    Dr. Lindsay Carey, MAppSc, PhD, is Head of Public Health Major and Course Adviser for the Health Sciences program at La Trobe University, plus Senior Research Fellow with the Palliative Care Unit, School of Psychology and Public Health at La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia. Dr. Carey's research interests include quantitative and qualitative research, public health, pastoral care, spirituality, palliative and aged care, death and dying, religiosity and health, the sacralization of identity process and occupational epidemiology. He first commenced tertiary teaching and research in 1989 with the Lincoln Institute of Health Sciences (Melbourne) and then from 1992 with the School of Public Health, La Trobe University (Melbourne). He has served as Research Fellow for the Caring for Caregivers Program (Victoria), Research Fellow with the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) Evaluation Program, Chaplaincy Research Fellow with the Pastoral Care Department of the Northern General Hospital (Sheffield, UK), National Research Fellow with the Australian Health & Welfare Chaplains Association (AHWCA) and Senior Research Chaplain for the ADF Joint Health Command. In 2010 he was made a Life Member of 'Spiritual Care Australia' and an Honorary Scholar with the Centre of Spirituality, Theology and Health at Duke University (US). He has twenty five years of pastoral care experience and research in parish and chaplaincy settings (including industrial chaplaincy, welfare chaplaincy, health care chaplaincy and defence force chaplaincy). He has also fulfilled appointments as an ethics committee member with Austin Health (Melbourne) and the AHWCA. He is Co-Editor of the international journal 'Health and Social Care Chaplaincy' (UK) and an editorial board member of the international 'Journal of Religion and Health' (US). Dr. Carey has conducted or assisted with pastoral care and chaplaincy research within a number of different contexts across Australia and New Zealand and authored / co-authored over 100 journal publications with regard to chaplaincy and pastoral care. Dr. Carey is ranked by SCOPUS (2019) as being in the top five of international chaplaincy researchers and was recognised in 2018 and 2019 as the National Field Research Leader in Australia for 'Religion and Health'. He has presented as a conference speaker in Australia, New Zealand, England, Ireland, Slovakia, the United States and was co-awarded the 'Sir Edward Weary Dunlop Award' (2019) for research into moral injury and veteran health. He has supervised post-graduate students researching in palliative care, pastoral care, chaplaincy, bioethics, spirituality and religion. Researchgate URL:


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How to Cite

Drummond, D. A., & Carey, L. B. (2020). Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care Response to COVID-19: An Australian Case Study – The McKellar Centre. Health and Social Care Chaplaincy, 8(2), 165-179.