Call the parish nurse!
Call the parish nurse!
In rural communities, access to services can be problematic and social isolation is an issue. It can sometimes be difficult for elderly or vulnerable people to get the support they need and this problem is increasing due to funding restrictions. Parish Nursing Ministries UK, working with local churches including the Church of England, is helping to tackle this problem through the provision of parish nurses. These are trained nurses who provide advice, support and advocacy to residents of all faiths, and of no faith at all. There are currently more than 80 parish nurses working around the country in a unique role that works to fill the gaps between existing services, including district nursing, health visiting and social care.
The Church of England’s Parochial Church Councils (PCCs) in the Cambridgeshire villages of Great and Little Abington, Hildersham, Balsham, Weston Colville and West Wratting have joined forces to launch a parish nursing initiative in their parishes. Significant funds have been raised by local residents and the Evelyn Trust has provided additional funding to so the project can become a reality for an initial period of three years. This collaborative venture, led by the Church, with support from local GPs and community groups, will address many issues highlighted in Cambridgeshire’s Joint Strategic Needs Assessment. The parish nurse will provide education, information and support to vulnerable people, including people with long term conditions; the elderly; people with mental health problems; children and young people; and carers of all ages. The nurse will also work with communities to enhance their ability to offer mutual support and improve local resilience.
“This initiative is in its infancy here as we have just recruited our parish nurse. We’re lucky to have recruited a very experienced nurse who has a background in children’s nursing and palliative care. She will have a very broad role assessing the health and well being needs of individuals, and as an advocate, listener, professional friend, care adviser and co-ordinator of services. She will work with and through local groups, GP practices and existing services,” explains Keith Day, a member of Hildersham PCC and Chairman of the Parish Nurse Management Committee.
The parish nurse will have training, plus professional and pastoral support. The management committee will provide guidance, support and oversee rigorous evaluation. Local groups will be involved help develop solutions to problems identified in their communities.
“Across the parishes, our total population is around 4,000, so the parish nurse will certainly be busy and her holistic service will no doubt be in demand as word gets out. It’s very exciting to be at the point of delivering this service after a lengthy planning process,” adds Keith.
The Evelyn Trust will be watching this initiative with interest and will report back on progress and the results of the formal evaluation.