Parish Nursing

What is a Parish Nurse?

A Parish Nurse combines health care with spiritual care and community resources. The service is open unconditionally to people of any or no faith.

Lesley Austin says "I have many years’ experience in nursing with over 25 years as a practice nurse. I still work in General Practice and volunteer as a Parish Nurse two days a week.

Parish Nursing gives me the opportunity to offer whole person health care, allowing me to combine my profession with my faith. It allows me to carry out preventative health care with spiritual care, enabling me to offer time to pray alongside practical help and advice, to listen and to care.

Parish nursing is a way of showing God’s unconditional love irrespective of a person’s current belief and whether or not they make a Christian commitment.

A key element of the initiative is to give time to address spiritual needs within a Christian context of whole person healthcare to help you achieve wholeness of body, mind and spirit."

What is Parish Nursing?

Parish Nursing was first developed in US in 1985 by a Lutheran Minister and Hospital Chaplain, Granger Westburg, to help provide healthcare to those who were unable to access government health provision. His vision was to take healthcare back to its spiritual roots, with the churches making provision for this using professionally trained nurses. There is now an International Parish Nurse Register with over 20,000 throughout the world and since 2004 Parish Nursing has been developing in the UK, with over 100 trained and 80 practising.

Biblical foundation and scientific developments

One fifth of the Christian Gospel is devoted to Jesus' healings and the ensuing debate around them. In Hebrew culture at this time, body and spirit were not divorced and Jesus viewed individuals as an essential unity. In His healing work He focused on relations between the person and God, the person and their neighbours, the person and the world. He commissioned disciples to continue his work. In The Acts of the Apostles we see that mission; a sense of wholeness and healing was an integral part of the work of the church. Since that time the church has, through its own varied experiences, sometimes of persecution and other times of acceptance and integration with the state, continued to engage in care and healing activities, but also in the developing debate between religion and science.

In The Acts of the Apostles we see that mission; a sense of wholeness and healing was an integral part of the work of the church. Since that time the church has, through its own varied experiences, sometimes of persecution and other times of acceptance and integration with the state, continued to engage in care and healing activities, but also in the developing debate between religion and science.

The influence of Greek and Roman thought and the development of science and particularly medical science throughout the ensuing centuries has led to a dualistic view of the person, with physical health perceived as the remit of doctors and health services and the church's role relegated to the care of the soul.

Historically the church has always played an important role in health care, developing hospitals and hospices and training staff. Then, with the advent of the NHS, the church took more of a back seat role. Now, however, the NHS cannot cope with the demands made upon it and many key areas of health service are struggling through lack of funding. The church is looking to provide support to its local communities by filling a few gaps.

Jesus was concerned about every aspect of people's lives.  He fed those who were hungry and healed those who were sick.  He is our example and, as His followers, we try to help others around us.  Our parish nurse is just one of the ways in which we try and do this.

Why a Parish Nurse?

Most people with health needs spend very little time in hospital or hospices where spiritual care happens through chaplaincy. Unless their need is known by a local minister, people may receive very little in the way of spiritual care in the community, other than that occasionally offered through community mental health teams, or cancer care nurses, but community health services are limited and have to be directed to the most needy.

What about those who do not need home treatments or injections? Is anyone there to make the connections between all the services that are available?

To explain things that are not understood?

To signpost people to appropriate agencies?

Is anyone there to recruit and coordinate volunteer help?

To encourage self-help?

To promote a healthy lifestyle for faith groups, and the communities they serve?

Parish Nurses are registered nurses with some community experience. We work from local churches to develop a whole-person health ministry in the community

Professional nurses are trained to coordinate appropriate care around the health needs of an individual or community

What can a Parish Nurse offer?

  A service that works in partnership with local Health Service Providers

  Health Assessment and advice

  Referral to other agencies when required

  Help make sense of medical information

  Advocacy

  Support in times of illness or stress

  Prayer support and the opportunity to discuss spiritual needs

  Parish nursing is part of the local church offering spiritual as well as physical, emotional and social care     

The Parish Nurse also has a role in promoting healthy lifestyles:

  To educate people about alcohol, drugs, sexual health, contraception, stress management, mental wellbeing, healthy eating, exercise, general health care.                                                 

Where can you find more general information on Parish Nursing?

At Parish Nursing Ministries UK www.parishnursing.org.uk

How do I contact QRBC's Parish Nurse?

To contact Parish Nurse, Lesley Austin