We talk a lot about it, but what is Parish Nursing?
The Parish Nurse aims to promote well-being, she offers support to individuals, families and communities. This can be at a time of crisis or simply during the journey of life’s challenges. Her main roles include: health educator, referral agent, trainer and coordinator of volunteers, developer of support groups, health advocate and integrator of faith and health.
Parish Nursing was launched in the UK in 2006. Julie Barry works in Edenbridge as our parish nurse with a remit to help with whole person healthcare and general well-being in our local community. Let Julie explain:
I’m employed [voluntarily] by the Eden Church, but I’m owned ecumenically, because the churches in Edenbridge work through the Edenbridge Churches in Covenant. Edenbridge is a small town, and all the ministers know each other and meet regularly. One church often gives me ASDA vouchers for the food bank, another church might refer someone to me who is struggling and needs specific help or who needs a listening ear with a medical angle. It’s a close-knit community, it’s a great network, and we don’t work in isolation.
Starting small …
Having decided to start small in September 2010, Julie’s current work is now very varied. It includes supporting mental-health self-help groups, being a health and lifestyle advice resource at a youth club, home visits, facilitating and enabling people to attend medical appointments, explaining medical treatments and dealing with referrals from various organisations to work alongside individuals or families. Crisis intervention plays a regular part.
We run a food bank and a furniture bank [the initiative we know as “God’s Hands”]; so I’m alongside people in a crisis. Often, people will ask me to pray for them, and with them; and I might invite families to Church events.
Most of my work is with people who might never have set foot in a church. That makes it a really joyful ministry for me.
Worth noting …
A Parish Nurse will not do dressings, injections, or any invasive treatments. She will not give advice beyond the competencies for which she has been trained. She will not put pressure on anyone to change their religion or join a particular church.