The Parish Nursing Ministry: Enhancing Community Support in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention
Freysteinson, Wyona M.
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Session presented on Saturday, July 23, 2016: Purpose: In a world faced by rising health care costs, alternatives are needed that will enhance community participation in health promotion and disease prevention. One alternative is a parish or faith community nursing program (American Nurses Association & Health Ministries Association, 2012). In this presentation, the leadership and activities of a Parish Nursing Ministry in a multi-cultural parish of over 60,000 individuals are described. Methods: Evidence suggests that parish or faith based programs may impact health promotion, disease prevention, and chronic care self-management (Baig et al, 2014; Maitlen, Borkstahler, & Belcher, 2012; Shores, 2014). The director of this program employs leadership principles from 'The Leadership Challenge' (Kouzes and Posner, 2012) in order to lead and develop leaders within the ministry. Kouzes and Posner's work spans three decades of researching extraordinary leadership. The five leadership practices include: 1) model the way, 2) inspire a shared vision, 3) challenge the process, 4) enable others to act, and 5) encourage the heart. Results: Nurses, healthcare professionals, and individuals from non-healthcare fields have joined this growing ministry which is in its third year. An increasing number of youth in the parish have joined and volunteer in community health care events. The ministry has several members who opt to lead, develop, and/or facilitate new projects. Exercise booths, nutrition lessons, workshops for those facing a life transition, diabetes screening, and health in-services are examples of the activities used to promote health. An annual health fair attracts physicians and nurse practitioners who volunteer their services for private consultations. Blood pressure, blood sugar, body mass index, cholesterol, flu screening, and free flu shots are offered together with medical financial counseling, and several in-services. For many people who are unable to obtain health insurance, this health fair is the only health care they receive. A Teddy Bear hospital allows children to adopt their own bear and obtain all the health care a bear may need (i.e. dental care, exercise, immunizations, x-rays, etc.). A team of members of the ministry make prayer blankets for the homebound. First aid is provided at all large parish events. The ministry has been extended to the greater community through visits to nursing care centers, orphanages, and homes for abused women. Leaders within the ministry have recently established a Saint Vincent de Paul conference in order to financially help care for those who are the most impoverished. Conclusion: A parish nursing ministry is one way in which members of a faith community may be inspired to participate in health promotion and disease prevention. By transforming a single parish nursing director-led ministry to one of multiple leaders, there may be a cascade of activity that could never have been achieved through traditional leadership methods.