A brief history of health and social care in the Findhorn Foundation Community
by Cornelia Featherstone
Once the community grew beyond the stage of a small family group, many different people contributed their own vision for a holistic society and served their community with their skills and experience.
In the early 80s Erica Cook and friends worked towards a holistic health centre at Station House and worked in the Health and Wholeness Department of the Findhorn Foundation. In the mid 80s Jock Millenson was one of the first to set up an independent business. Eileen’s toilet block was converted and he expanded the Apothecary from the Foundation’s healing caravan Merlin. Thus alternative therapies, remedies and a health food cafe were made available to the public. Wonderful healers such as Barbara D’Arcy Thomson and Willa Sleath worked with Dorothy Noble, the focaliser of the Foundation’s Health and Wholeness Department at The Park.
When I arrived in 1987 I worked in the Apothecary for a while and later took on focalizing the Health and Wholeness Department in Cluny. With Dorothy Noble at The Park we merged the two departments in 1990 to share resources and support each other more. In 1991 we manifested the beautiful Meridian at Bag End as treatment centre. A dynamic team with Katie Lloyd, Dürten Lau, Deborah Lewin and others, organized the People Care Program, ran educational workshops and the Medical Marriage conferences.
Still people who became old and frail or young members with serious health conditions felt that they had to leave Findhorn as they could not ‘pull their weight’ in this working community. This filled me with sadness as I resonated with the grief of those leaving but even more with the loss I felt for the collective as we were cutting ourselves off from such crucial aspects of life.
In 1992 Ina May Gaskin from The Farm visited the community for the first Medical Marriage Conference and her keynote was “Only once a community has reclaimed birth and death can it realise the potential of self-determination.” (Ina May Gaskin)
And in the last 20 years we have come a long way towards that. We now have many community institutions and members who provide personal and professional services in health care as well as in ministry. From the Code of Ethics based practitioners directory, to a professional multidisciplinary health centre, HealthWorks, in Forres, a large number of highly skilled health practitioners in the complementary as well as in allopathic medicine and a big group of interfaith ministers we can now draw on a wealth of experience and resources to look after our own in collaboration with those experts who work in the National Health and Social Care service. The NFA has a group of dedicated members who hold that awareness in the “Community Care Circle”. This group is running workshops in “The Curriculum for the 4th Age” to pass on the skills and knowledge that facilitate care in the community.
The stepping stones towards that were many and I can list only a few here:
In 1996 Joannie Hartnell-Bevis blessed us with the experience of looking after her 24hr a day for three month until it was time for her to leave her body. Eileen’s unwavering support for the volunteer-carers and her bold appeal to the worldwide community brought all the resources to provide the care needed for Joannie. The Elders’ Fund (now Community Care Fund) was started and has since then provided financial support for care in the community where it was not covered by statutory services. Many a legacy from community members has since then ensured that the fund is there for times of need.
In 1997 with Doris Oulton we experienced for the first time a DIY funeral in the community. Not handing her body over to an undertaker after her sudden death allowed her best friend, Constance Marcham, to say good bye to her in a way that she knew Doris would have wanted. Since then we have had many empowering and healing transitions from life into death in this community.
In 1998 we had the first burial on private land and in 2002 Lyle Schnadt was the first to be buried within The Park. We now have a Green Burial site in the woodland beyond Pineridge that serves community members as well as the general public with a natural, beautiful resting place.
And I am delighted to say that our wonderful Eileen benefited herself from her own groundbreaking work as we were able to look after her at home for three years as she grew increasingly dependent. And what an enlightening experience that was for all those touched by this gift!
The community is a better place for having embraced the provision of care for the times when people are in need, including the final stages of life. We have the privilege of sharing with each other times when the raw experience of life makes the veils between the worlds thin and we can apply the spiritual principles of this place in an immediate and tremendously rewarding way.
- CCC Mission and Aims – in more detail
- Looking after Our Own – a brief history of health and social care in the Findhorn Foundation Community
- Curriculum for the 4th Age – summary