Chaplain helps to lift spirits
Since September, Chaplain Daryl Madi has helped to ensure that Aberdeen Heights residents are healthy and well — looking particularly at the role spiritual health plays in overall well-being.
“I’m a pastor and a minister,” Daryl said. “I think spiritual health is important. During the pandemic, we’re seeing that a lot of things we thought were important aren’t. The relationship between people is essential, the sense of purpose. Spirituality addresses that.”
In his work at Aberdeen Heights, Daryl spends much of his time building those relationships and using the feedback he gets to help staff make adjustments to better meet residents’ needs.
“Things are better than they were when things were locked down,” Daryl said. “Those measures were there to keep people safe, but the downside is that it kept people apart. That was tough during the lockdown. I basically go around knocking on doors, showing up at resident council meetings. I think that’s been appreciated by residents.”
For those residents who have moved from independent living to skilled nursing, Daryl also fills the role of messenger.
“They used to live together and be friends,” Daryl said. “They can’t see each other now because of the strong lines on visitation. I serve as a conduit. I can pass on notes or messages and do that sort of thing.”
His work also involves facilitating programs that elevate residents’ spiritual needs and help address their sense of community and togetherness.
“We hold book discussions and Bible discussions,” Daryl said. “We have prayer groups where we take prayer requests and another on centering prayer. That’s been helpful. It’s sort of meditation, more grounded and peaceful.”
Daryl said it’s important to pay attention to residents and to be aware of any changes in their behavior or routine that might have a basis in emotional or spiritual needs.
“One of the things we deal with a lot here are end-of-life issues,” Daryl said. “The residents are aging in place, and for many this will likely be their last residence. As a result, you talk about those issues. We want to make sure it’s appropriate for their position in life and get them the support they need. I think one of the things to look for is when people stop communicating or reaching out. If you don’t see them at lunch or at some event. We had an event with beer, brats and the baseball history of St. Louis. If they don’t show up to an event like that, it might be wise to go out of your way to check on someone and see how they’re doing. If the conversation is overly morbid, it might be good to connect them with someone who can help them process.”
In his role as chaplain, Daryl said he works to respect residents of all Christian faiths, and he wants to be a comfortable place for residents to share their experiences.
“They might feel more comfortable speaking with a pastor than a nurse,” Daryl said. “Lots of folks come here because Christian values are emphasized here. I tell people my door is always open, and we play no spiritual favorites.”
Daryl has been married to his wife, Merry, for 25 years. They have four children, the youngest a freshman in high school.
“He has more personality than the other three kids combined,” Daryl laughed.
He is also an avid baseball fan.
“My first love is the Phillies, but the Cards are my adopted team,” Daryl said. “I would say St. Louis is the best baseball town in America. What I love is that they love the team, but they love the game and the history of the game. When Boston won the World Series against the Cards, they were sad the team lost but excited that history was made in St. Louis.”