Parish Nursing enables local churches to offer help and advice in a nursing context, to people during their visits to church or community centre. We visit St Saviours Church in Stockport to see Parish Nursing in action.
Maddy Watts is a fully trained nurse (retired) and is also a Pastoral Worker, which she has been since 2008 when she was licensed. In 2005 Maddy began working as a Parish Nurse at St Saviours, a voluntary role, that enables her to deliver ministry and faith to others, through her nursing skills.
Twice a week, Maddy, together with Aly Tuft, an Assistant Parish Nurse offers to check people's blood pressure, and weight and more importantly conversation and general advice about health. Maddy and Aly describe how their work is very much about talking with people about their worries and lifestyles, and how they have a holistic approach to health and well-being. "One of the main differences between being a parish nurse compared to being a nurse in the NHS is that I'm allowed to express my faith as a parish nurse. I can tell people I'm a Christian and pray openly with them, which is very much a part of what I can offer alongside the usual medical checks."
Parish Nurses are trained and accredited by Parish Nursing Ministries UK. They describe their aim as; "To assist churches and Christian organizations in strategizing, launching, and sustaining Parish Nursing services as integral elements of their community outreach endeavors."
Maddy's work doesn't stop when she leaves the church gate as she will also phone people up to check how they are feeling and perform home visits. At the last clergy conference, she offered a blood pressure test service to all of the attendees, which Maddy describes as "Caring for the carers", emphasizing how work-related stresses can build over time and impact our health.
Currently, Parish Nurses are present in two parishes in the Diocese of Chester, the other parish being Upton St Mary's on the Wirral. Maddy would like to see more, "There's a great untapped resource of highly qualified Christian nurses and health visitors sitting in the congregations across the diocese who might not be aware of Parish Nursing would be valuable assets to their local church and community if they were able to share their medical experience and experience within a ministerial context."
To find out more about Parish Nursing visit Parish Nursing Ministries UK