Parish Nurses support individuals and communities towards whole-person health and wellbeing, through churches and Christian organisations of any denomination.
Providing individual health education, advice and information or group interventions to promote health, referring on to statutory services if required
Supporting people who are lonely or recovering from illness, including providing advice and support to families and informal carers
Supporting, advising and advocating for individuals living with long term conditions, their families and informal carers
Offering support for those at the end of life and their families and carers, facilitating spiritual health and bereavement support
Parish Nurses work with people of all ages and backgrounds, of any faith or none.
What is the role of a Parish Nurse?
Parish Nurses are Registered Nurses who undertake a certificate in Parish Nursing and are employed or appointed as a volunteer by a church or Christian organisation to lead a health ministry. Parish Nurses analyse local health needs and then focus on improving, maintaining and regaining health through education, advice, advocacy and referral. This includes a range of interventions such as healthy living groups, clarifying medical procedures or supporting individuals during a health crisis. Parish Nurses frequently lead a team of volunteers to support their work.
This is place-based, person-centred, wholistic nursing that compliments but does not replace statutory services.
Parish Nurses therefore focus on the person, integrating different aspects of health including an intentional focus on spiritual care.
Sarah was in her late 30’s when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her life had been turned upside down. I was appointed to visit her and we quickly built a rapport. We discussed life and faith, and I was able to explain the course her treatment might take. It was wonderful to celebrate together with Sarah and her family when she was given the all-clear.
Can a Parish Nurse work with groups of people in my organisation or church?
Of course! Many nurses liaise with local organisations or run their own groups to support health.
Some of the things Parish Nurses have arranged include:
- Chair exercise clubs or group mobility walks for people who struggle to get moving
- Referrals to local Carers’ Groups who offer support and relaxation time for informal carers
- Health fairs, including appointments or opportunities for advice and screening such as blood pressure checks
When you appoint a Parish Nurse, your combined vision is central to their assessment of local needs so they can set up the groups, links and support that will be most beneficial.
Dave’s wife had Parkinson’s, finding herself unable to come to church as she became more frail. During my first trip to their home with Communion, I could clearly see what a toll was being taken on Dave in caring for his wife 24/7. I got him in touch with the local carers group and he now attends monthly pamper sessions to enjoy some respite in his own space!
Parish Nurses are for everyone
Parish Nurses support your church congregation and local community.
They can help to prevent hospital admissions by identifying and supporting people who are at risk of admission or have early signs diseases like dementia.
They can support people who are struggling with their mental health and on their recovery journey.
They train and coordinate volunteers to provide extra support during times of crisis, or combating loneliness.
They encourage exercise and healthy nutrition, so that preventable diseases are less likely to ensue.
They help people of all ages to understand the dangers of unhealthy behaviours.
They can organise events such as men’s health breakfasts, where other healthcare professionals are invited to speak on health issues; health fairs; or courses on stress management.
Mary had been caring for her husband, Rob, for 20 years after he had a stroke. I originally became involved to organise carer support so that Mary could have some time away from the home. Sadly, Rob died just after Christmas one year. I encouraged Mary to contact her estranged family and together we supported her through her bereavement.