Being a shepherd means being with your sheep through whatever transpires in their lives—birthdays, weddings, job transitions, and the declines evident in old age. When someone in your congregation loses the ability to live on his or her own, nursing home care might be needed. Brian Morphonios, a full-time nursing home chaplain in North Carolina, offers hospital visitation tips for productive ministry to these people.
There certainly is a multitude of issues surrounding the care of those with long-term illnesses or disabilities. In addition to the hospital visitation tips from Brian, you can also get a sense of what it’s like to be a (three-time) cancer survivor from Georgia Shaffer; her story will help you approach cancer patients with more empathy. See Caring for those with long-term illnesses.
Nor should you forget about the family members and friends who are caregivers to those with long-term illnesses and disabilities. Sam Hodges’s interview with Mary Tutterow addresses the importance of caring for the caregiver. See What caregivers want from pastors.