Parish Nursing Ministries UK (PNMUK) believes that churches and faith-based organisations have an important role to play in promoting health. In partnership with PNMUK, skilled registered nurses lead this ministry by setting up relevant and innovative models that reach out into local communities to those in need, whatever a person’s background or faith belief.
As demand is increasing along with additional pressures on the NHS and the exacerbation of health inequalities, a recent grant from Benefact Trust will enable PNMUK to further develop its work into more areas of the UK. As capacity is released within PNMUK through this step-up grant, dynamic new networks with churches will emerge that will lead to more local parish nursing services being established, benefitting the health of many more people and local communities.
The goal is to equip and support two new parish nursing services in the North/North East within the first year of funding. This will equate to another 1,000 service users reached as a minimum (based on data returns in 2021). Furthermore, the grant will also support an extension of parish nursing into Wales through a regional pilot role.
This is a timely step as the world emerges from the intensity of the pandemic and the NHS faces a backlog in routine medical care offerings. Parish nurses offer a variety of interventions that address the needs in our communities and churches. Some people need help to maintain or recover their health; help to live well with a health condition; support in a caring role; or support to cope with the final stages of life. Unique to these interventions is the recognition of client-led spiritual care, which underpins the parish nursing ethos and approach.
Over the course of 2021, each local parish nursing service that submitted returns had an average of almost 450 service users per service. Of these, 150 service users were not regular church attendees.
The top five recorded interventions in this period were:
• Action to reduce or prevent social isolation.
• Short-term or long-term health support.
• Health education in groups or with individuals.
• Mental health support.
• Client-led individual or group spiritual intervention.
Sue Bretherick, CEO of PNMUK, said: “Parish nursing merges authenticity, collaborative innovation, leadership, and specialist nursing skills with a depth of faith that exudes life and hope to our communities. The grant from Benefact Trust will open up new possibilities for more needs to be met and lives changed through this ministry.”
Quotes from service users about the care received:
“The Parish Nurse is a wonderful person who has helped me and my husband through some very difficult times. We look forward to her visits; she is always cheerful and understanding. She has helped me to cope with my cancer.”
“Being a clergy widow, a Christian understanding brings strength and comfort to me. It means a lot to know that we can pray together and that I am not alone.”
“A really positive experience with my newborn baby and a great addition to Toddlers group. Saves going to extra appointments with a health visitor.”
Chloe Ewen, Grants Officer for Benefact Trust, said: “We’re delighted to support the expansion of PNMUK’s parish nursing services, which are so important for local communities and more vital than ever with the strain on the NHS.”