The Role of a Faith Community Nurse
The mission of all health ministry is transformation of individuals and communities regarding conceptualisation of health and healing, empowering people to act in ways that enable them to transition successfully through life's changing conditions to maintain and improve their well-being. This transformative process is a dynamic life-long journey that enables us to grow closer to Jesus Christ thus locating our wholeness in and through God. Thus all functions of the Faith Community Nurse should nurture spiritual growth and clarify the relationships between faith and health.
The cultural and religious group within which the Faith Community Nurse is working will determine the individual mission of each Faith Community Nurse. The aim of all education, counselling, advocacy, resource and referral, and care management is to help people to integrate the spiritual aspect of life in their current circumstance so they may find health, healing and well-being of body, mind and spirit. All health care is aimed at facilitating the physical, mental, social and spiritual integrity of people and communities as they experience life's transitions.
A Faith Community Nurse works as a team member of the faith community to serve the congregation and members of the wider community. A Faith Community Nurse, while active in one-on-one work with clients, also has a significant role in empowering others to exercise their God-given gifts. A Faith Community Nurse liaises with and supports clients in their dealings with other local health professionals.
The Role of a Faith Community Nurse
The roles identified as those of a Faith Community Nurse are listed below. Some of these roles will be more important in a particular faith community than others and each faith community nurse will bring their own individual skills to the ministry. It is also important to consider what services are already available within the region as there may be no need to duplicate them
WHAT CAN A FAITH COMMUNITY NURSE DO?
1. Health Educator and Facilitator
The Faith Community Nurse uses various and appropriate methods to educate individuals and to facilitate small group learning in the areas of: lifestyle, behaviour, faith, health enhancement activities, illness risk reduction, disease management, environment awareness, social justice and other health and well-being issues that are pertinent to the group of people the Faith Community Nurse serves.
Faith Community Nurses may be requested to support a person, or persons regarding their health care, or their rights regarding health care. This may involve interpreting points of view and helping people to 'see' another perspective. Thus this function may include mediation to bring about agreement and/or reconciliation between people. Advocacy may include prayer with (and for) clients and their families.
3. Personal Health Counsellor
Personal and small group counselling is an important aspect of the role. This may entail helping people with health problems through listening, advising, supporting and recommending referral, as required. In addition, the Faith Community Nurse provides home visits and monitors progress as requested. The role includes offering knowledge of viable options to assist the individual to make informed choices in a supported environment.
4. Resource and Referral Agent
The Faith Community Nurse liaises between the individual and the faith community, and also the individual and other health and community services. The Faith Community Nurse is able to negotiate access to, and assist entry into health services or support networks in the local community, of which people may be unaware. This resource and referral activity occurs within the faith community and beyond. The aim is to better manage and coordinate care for individuals and communities.
5. Coordinator of Health Ministry Volunteers
The Faith Community Nurse organises, educates and supports groups of ancillary workers and volunteers to support the health ministry of the faith community.
6. Care Manager
The Faith Community Nurse assists clients with an existing illness, complex conditions and/or disability to manage their condition, prevent exacerbations, and/or limit complications. The Faith Community Nurse's holistic approach to care management considers the client, their family, the client's environment and the faith community, when developing care management with the client.
Other responsibilities of an FCN include:
- active participation in the worship life of the faith community
- active team membership/leadership within the congregation
- creating, maintaining and storing confidential client records
- on-going evaluation of the Faith Community Nurse role, functions and sustainablity
- self-care: to ensure personal spiritual growth and capacity to cope in this demanding position
WHAT IS THE FAITH COMMUNITY NURSE PAID?
The majority of Faith Community Nurses in New Zealand work voluntarily but increasingly salaried positions are becoming available as churches or health agencies acknowledge the value of this nursing speciality. Whilst NZFCNA endorse the concept of both voluntary and salaried positions, even voluntary job contracts should include expenses for the requirements of this ministry. We encourage that expenses should include:
- a mileage allowance
- a book allowance
- payment of annual Nursing Council registration fees
- the cost of indemnity insurance or annual membership of an organisation such as NZNO which provides such insurance
- cost of expenses for educational expenses e.g. attendance at NZFCNA annual conferences (registration, accommodation and travel) e.g. cost of initial basic training course (by distance learning)
- provision of office facilities with lockable filing cabinet and office expenses
- funding for spiritual and clinical supervision
If the Faith Community Nurse is salaried, the industrial rates for a registered nurse should apply and appropriate remuneration can be guided by contacting the regional NZNO office. Salaries for Faith Community Nurses may be funded in the following ways:
- private sponsorship from individuals, or corporate sponsors
- sponsorship from private benefactors, foundations, and funding agencies
- grants for specific project work from community and government funding agencies
- contributions from members of the faith community
- partnerships with other community, health and aged care agencies
Whether voluntary or salaried, a contract and job description will be required to include as proof of hours of employment for the requirements of Nursing Council, should the Faith Community Nurse be audited. We advise that Faith Community Nurses include these in a portfolio together with evidence of professional development.