NZFCNA conference 2012 Christchurch

The New Zealand Faith Community Nurses Association recently held their annual conference in Christchurch. The theme of the conference, which was attended by about 30 delegates from round the country and included three from Australia, was "Called together to bind the broken hearted": sustaining resilience when hope is wavering.

This was especially appropriate as we were in Christchurch. The conference for 2011 was to have been held in Christchurch but had to be cancelled because of the earthquakes. Presentations were given by members of the Board of the NZFCNA; Elaine Tyrrell on reflective practice; learning from our patients and their families, and Elizabeth Niven on Hope – in health and illness; in faith , in our lives.

A key point that Elaine gave was having the 'best fit' nurse for the patient, some patients respond better to extrovert nurses while others to quieter nurses. Elaine was giving examples from her work on a rehabilitation ward and during her research found that patients remembered how nurses 'were' rather than what they 'did'.

Elizabeth talked of how patients who may have very little hope will face facts at a pace which preserves their 'protective cocoon'; they cannot necessarily be expected to remember everything told to them in one go. Elizabeth also reminded us that hope, in Christian understanding, is a learning to look forward, confident in the memory of what God has already achieved in Jesus Christ, to the fulfilment of God's creation.

Other speakers from Canterbury included representatives from the Police Chaplaincy, Rev Paul Eden of the Ellesmere Co-operating Parish, Steve Graham, the Principal of Laidlaw College and representatives from Habitat from Humanity. The after dinner speech was given by Dr Christina Stinson of Mercy Ships.

The police chaplains spoke of the five top needs for resilience in the disillusionment stage that Christchurch has now reached as the city is being rebuilt. The five needs being: physical health, healthy family relationships, a social life, emotional health and spiritual health. Paul Eden also covered some of these topics as he spoke about the resilience needed at this stage of Christchurch's rebuilding.

Steve Graham talked of how in the midst of disaster the people must be allowed to grieve, to take care of themselves, to listen to the promptings of the heart to see how they can help others, to begin to restore order celebrating each small step rather than waiting until it is all done before celebrating, work together knowing that others will be working alongside, finding the living giving hope of God and then letting hope begin to arise.

Paul and Helen Taylor from Habitat for Humanity in Christchurch told us of the work that their organisation has been doing in helping those whose houses were uninsured for valid reasons. Paul related how as a builder he has 'saved a life' as one of the clients coming to him was almost suicidal with worry and had lost all hope because the state of his home an because the state of his home and his finances. The Habitat for Humanity team was able restore some hope to this man.

All in all a great conference, it was very worthwhile coming to Christchurch to see for ourselves a little of what is happening and to see that even when such a disaster falls on you God gives the resilience to cope. Thanks to the Christchurch nurses for all their sterling work.

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