THE VALUE OF FAITH COMMUNITY NURSING IN NEW ZEALAND

The Faith Community Nurse, as a representative of a particular Christian faith community, provides a holistic approach to care and nurture of the individual, the congregation and the community, throughout all stages of life regardless of ability, colour, creed or socioeconomic status. The Faith Community Nurse is able to provide support and education to empower the congregation to adopt healthy lifestyle patterns and enhance spiritual growth.

The fragmentation of the extended family, and increasingly the immediate family is creating a gap in social care, with many elderly, young families, single parents and the frail in our community left unsupported and alone. The faith community is enriched by the expertise nurses have in caring for the disadvantaged and marginalised people.

Our over-burdened health care system has a resource strain, coupled with a shrinking health care dollar and increases in use, which increases the tensions on our overloaded health care system. More than ever the focus of treatment and cure needs to move to illness prevention and health promotion.

The Faith Community Nurse ministry focuses on nurturing healthy relationships between the individual, other people, the created environment and God, thus promoting health and wellbeing. Individuals with existing disease are empowered to take responsibility for their health and manage their condition using the Faith Community Nurse as a resource person and advocate. Care occurs in the context of a supportive faith community.

The Faith Community Nurse does not work in isolation. Rather, she/he is part of a health ministry team who combine gifts, talents, professional knowledge and skills to provide the vocation call to compassionate care. In this way it is an integral part of the health and healing ministry of our Christian faith communities.

The Faith Community Nurse ministry also focuses on community health. Churches are the only places in our society where people of all ages congregate regularly and can forge long-term relationships across the life span. Faith communities allow people to be connected, to serve, and to be served. They provide a common history and destiny for life's journey. They enable us to accompany one another along the journey, providing companions, energy and resources to facilitate our travels. The faith community is a safe place for us to grow and become; to bless and to be blessed, to pray and bring each other before God's throne of grace. A loving faith community is a healing place and these relationships create the basis for true community health, which the Faith Community Nurse seeks to promote and nurture.

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