Guidelines for Pastoral Visiting
Guidelines from the Safeguarding Persons Team for those undertaking to make pastoral visits on behalf of the Church.
- Beforehand – be prepared
- Make sure you have a reference person, such as your minister, church warden, pastoral ‘lead’ or safeguarding person, and tell them who you’ll be visiting and when.
- If you haven’t recently been in touch with the person to be visited, find out a bit more about their current circumstances from someone who has.
- If you don’t know them well already or are uncertain, it may help on a first visit to accompany someone who does, who can introduce you and your role.
- In any case, assess if it’s safe and appropriate for you to visit on your own, or if it would be wiser to take someone with you.
- When arranging the visit, indicate to the person you’re going to see that you will be making a pastoral Church call rather than just a random, friendly visit.
- Check with the person you are to visit whether they will have anyone at home with them, or if it would help to have someone there with them.
- If communicating in advance through a caregiver, get their thoughts on the best time to visit etc. but ultimately, trust your judgement.Give the person you’re visiting a phone call the day before or on the day, to check they’re expecting you. If they put you off, suggest or agree a new arrangement.
- During your visit – be mindful
- Take your cellphone with you and, if possible, an official Church communication of some sort, such as prayer card, recent bulletin, newsletter or ‘The Anchor’.
- If it’s a Communion visit, have with you all that you need – ask your minister for guidance on that, as required – and set a worshipful tone.
- You may be requested or wish in any case to offer prayer. Ask if there is something particular to pray about. Keep it short. You may wish to invite your host also to pray.
- It may be helpful to have a written prayer or two with you – and to leave a copy with your host.
- If it feels like the person would appreciate prayer of others, or if there is something should be shared with your reference person, ask “May I share this with…”
- Be careful not to take on responsibilities, except for any simple request that you can easily help with. Say you’ll respond after you’ve found what help is available.
- Don’t give money. If there is evident financial hardship, there’ll be help you can refer to such as a food distribution programme or your minister’s discretionary fund.
- Don’t feel under pressure to answer every question, promise to meet every need, or apologize for every disappointment with the Church. Ask with sensitivity and listen.
- Don’t outstay your welcome. It’s better to leave while you are still appreciated, than stay and unintentionally be tiresome, figuratively or literally.
- Afterwards – stay organized
- Keep a note of your visit and let your reference person (see 1.1 above) know how it went, using any routine reporting process that may be in place.
- Keep confidential any personal matters that were shared on your visit. If sharing a request for prayer for a person or situation, keep it very general and brief.
- If you see indications that someone may be needing extra attention or there is a situation of concern that is worsening, tell your priest or reference person.
- If something was disclosed that indicates someone may be at risk of harm, talk at once to your Church safeguarding person or minister and heed their response.
- Follow up any undertakings you made on your visit and let the person know of any outcome or progress. Give them a call anyway to thank them for their welcome.
- Keep the person in your own prayers and whether it’s via yourself or someone else, make sure they are kept in contact with the Church over the weeks and months ahead.
Thank you for your part in this important ministry. Canon John Stow and the Safeguarding Team firstname.lastname@example.org Tel. 293-1710, Cell 707-1710