What is the Aurora Parish Nurse Program?

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Aurora Parish Nurse Program partners with local faith communities to encourage and support ministries of health and healing across the lifespan by employing a holistic approach to care integrating spiritual, emotional and physical health in the safe, familiar and comfortable environment of a person's faith community. Aurora Parish Nurse Program expands the traditional model of the hospital as the primary place of healthcare and healing by creating access points within faith communities to help empower congregations to provide education, programs and services that address the spiritual, mental and physical health of its members

Parish nursing familyWhat is a parish nurse?

A parish nurse is a registered nurse with advanced education in combining the spiritual, mental and physical care of individuals and congregations. Working in partnership with the pastoral staff and members of the congregation, the parish nurse builds bridges between congregations and health providers to assist and empower individuals to become active partners in the management of their personal health resources. This is accomplished through the provision of professional, onsite medical and health evaluations, health care educational programming, navigational assistance, and individual case management.

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The parish nurse role encompasses the following functions:

  • Integrator of faith and health
  • Health educator
  • Health counselor
  • Referral source and advocate
  • Program facilitator and leader

What do Parish Nurses do?

Parish nurses identify and promote opportunities to enhance the relationship of faith and health within the context of the values, beliefs and practices of the faith community. They nurture the client's faith system and practices that enhance health, such as forgiveness, meditation and prayer. By embedding services within the community at access points where individuals have a trusting relationship, parish nurses provide access to professional health services with special attention to preventative health screenings, monitoring chronic conditions, and increased health education to keep overall health care costs low.

Parish nurses are health educators, providing members with information on health conditions, treatments and prevention. This includes the inter-relationship of one's faith, body and mind. Education is offered for individuals and groups on topics identified and requested by the congregation. Examples of care include but are not limited to colorectal cancer education, screening and referral; memory loss assessment and education; advance care planning education and assistance; child safety and parenting education; senior health and caregiver issues; depression education; heart disease education; and tobacco use assessment, education and cessation support.

Parish nurses are health counselors who listen and respond to health concerns of individuals and their families. Concerns such as medications, blood pressure, nutrition, weight control and end-of-life issues are covered. Parish nurses do not duplicate services of other health professionals and do not do such things as giving injections or providing wound care.

Parish nurses are a referral source for health services. They link the member's needs with resources in the community and assist them in accessing these services. Parish nurses offer a unique relationship-based nursing care that serves as a point of access to health care for many people who would otherwise lack such access

Parish nurses are advocates for members who have difficulty in receiving adequate health services. They may accompany individuals to hospitals and visits to medical professionals, meet with families to plan care of individual or to counsel members; as well as conduct home, hospital, and nursing home visits to monitor health status, provide emotional support, encourage compliance with medical treatment, and recommend community services. As program facilitator and leader, they assist congregations in mobilizing the gifts, talents and energies of its members to contribute to the health and healing mission of the congregation.

Volunteers are organized and trained to support in visitation, support groups, program planning and implementation.

parishHow can I support the Parish Nurse Program?

Last year, the Parish Nurse Program provided over 11,000 individuals health screenings, assisted 558 individuals with completing Advanced Directives, provided 987 referrals to community or health care services and nearly 19,000 people participated in group education activities.

Donations of any size will directly support the Parish Nurse Program to provide services including but not limited to individual case management; health education and support group assistance to individuals struggling with chronic conditions; preventive health screenings; regularly scheduled BP screenings; and flu and pneumonia vaccines.

For more information on the Parish Nurse Program and its scope of services, please contact Sue Schaus, Manager Community Programs at (414) 290-5495.