Hello to all who read this. My purpose in blogging is to create interest in what I now see as my life's work. I am 60 years of age and now receiving a health service pension. I have been involved with health and social care since the age of 19, working in nursing and nurse education, and doing a part-time PhD (competed in 2012) with the title 'Supporting Buddhist Identity in Long-Term Care Situations'-the thesis is available as a PDF if you Google the title and my civil name Martin Hillary.
I mention my civil name because I am a Buddhist and am also known as Dayasara, a name given to me on my ordination course in 2001. Soon after this on one of our Triratna (formerly FWBO) Order gatherings I noticed a fellow Order Member in his seventies who had worsening mobility and other health problems. Not long after I was visiting him hospital after he had a fall, and then in a care home on the South Coast where he had moved to live. It was striking that on the one hand the care home staff complied with his preference for his Buddhist ordination name (he complemented them on this, adding to me "Yes, they use it without knowing what it means"). On the other hand their understanding of vegetarianism was minimal, though they proved receptive when he made suggestions. My friend was delighted when a young East European carer became interested in the Buddhist art in his room, borrowed a book and came back with lots of spiritual questions.
All this got me thinking about the needs of Buddhists in long-term care, and with interviews and a questionnaire I built up a picture. Whilst my South Coast friend had 3 supportive children, had had 2 work careers, was a home-owner and was ordained in later life, a number of Triratna Order Members have a different profile. Our movement was founded in 1967, and as it grew into the 1970s it was somewhat associated with hippie/alternative culture. Some Order Members devoted their youthful energy to developing urban centres where meditation and Buddhism were taught, to rural retreat centres, to Buddhist residential communities and to Buddhist work projects (known as Team-Based Right Livelihoods-TBRLs). In doing this conventional concerns as to work career and families were sometimes side-lined, and as some move into later life they face this without much financial or family support.
I concluded that Buddhists do have specific needs in long-term care (vegetarianism being one example). Whilst Triratna work projects (TBRLs) have usually been in retail or catering, we do have many people with care experience and could develop projects in long-term care. These could serve a wide population of people (typically non-Buddhist) but could have particular sensitivity to the needs of Buddhists and other spiritually-inclined people.
What I have already written may have raised questions for readers....and I'll say more in my next post! With Metta- Dayasara Martin Hillary (when writing I combine my Buddhist and civil names in this way) June 20th 2014 21.45pm