What is Faith Community Nursing?
Faith community nursing brings together a recent trend to focus on holistic health and draws the Church back to its roots of caring for the healing of its members. Health is no longer the sole responsibility of the physician or psychiatrist. Each independent individual should be empowered to care for their own well-being supported by a caring family/whanau/community. Healing is not physical health, mental stability or lack of disability. Health is a wholeness of body, mind and spirit in relationship with God and His creation. The Church and its members have the potential to participate in the establishment and nurturing of this healing process.
The goal of faith community nursing/parish nursing is to promote, protect, and restore the health of those persons served by the church and enable and empower others for healthy living.
Faith community nursing is a form of ministry provided by a registered nurse within a community of faith. The faith community or fellowship/congregation of Christians support their faith community nurse (FCN)1 to provide care within that fellowship as well as providing a means of outreach to their local community. The role of the faith community will be discussed further in future modules.
Parish Nursing developed in the United States based upon the work of Granger Westberg, a hospital chaplain. He saw the role which nurses had in the spiritual care of their clients as well as the health promotional role they played in their faith communities. Individual churches explore how this form of nursing/ministry can work for them. In Australia and other countries the term Faith Community Nursing has been used since not all Christian denominations work within the structure of parishes familiar to say the Catholic or Anglican Church. Other nurses choose to be called Pastoral nurses.
1The term 'Faith Community Nurse' (FCN) includes nurses who work with individual churches, congregations, parishes; faith-based schools, aged care facilities, community houses and welfare agencies; and other health and social services conducted under the auspices of the Christian church. Please feel free to use the language that resonates with your own faith community's tradition - such as 'parish nurse', 'pastoral nurse', 'congregational nurse', 'pastoral care nurse' or similar.