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Feb4FriHeritage Park Temple's new parish nursing program is nurturing body and soul February 4, 2011 by Julia Hosking
When she surveyed her new community nearly four years ago, Major Julie Slous, corps officer, Heritage Park Temple, Winnipeg, witnessed signs of gangs and drug dealing.
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- Territorial News
“Linked with this was an evident struggle among low-income families who seemed to lack awareness of where they could go for help and support,” says Major Slous. “Looking at the seniors' population, it was obvious that many were grappling with the intricacies of the medical and social services system.”
In order to find a comprehensive solution, Heritage Park Temple's corps officers (Majors Julie and Brian Slous) and leadership team worked with local representatives from the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority and other community agencies that are part of a local neighbourhood network for co-ordinating and assessing the various needs of the region.
As the conversations evolved, it became apparent that in order to address physical, medical and spiritual issues, holistic ministry—in particular, parish nursing—was required.
“From the very first mention of this program, there was instant receptivity and all sorts of excitement,” says Major Julie Slous.
Parish nursing relies on a faith community with a network of health professionals. As Heritage Park Temple has people experienced in both health and social services, the corps was well suited to implement the program.
Following a lengthy process of research and assessment, the corps was authorized to commence a parish nursing program and Sharon Harms was hired as the parish nursing supervisor. Harms is qualified for both the medical and chaplaincy aspects of the job as she has extensive experience as a registered nurse, holds a theological diploma and has been a pastor's wife for 20 years.
“What was most important when hiring our supervisor was that they had wide nursing experience and a theological background,” says Major Slous. “In Sharon, we found the perfect candidate.”
After comprehensively exploring the needs of the community and existing services, Harms and her team will develop programs that focus on holistic health and help people navigate the medical system. The corps has already made progress in the former area by establishing a support group for young mothers.
“I have a passion for helping people achieve health and wholeness,” shares Harms. “We often receive assistance for specific areas of life, but sometimes our needs are interconnected and we're not getting help for the whole picture. I'm hoping we can provide a holistic picture through our ministry.”
A Parish Nurse's Role
Parish nurses spend most of their time talking to people about their health concerns in homes, hospitals, coffee shops and the parish nurse's office. Through the conversations, the parish nurse is dedicated to providing health teaching and counselling with a focus on the physical, emotional, social, cognitive and spiritual needs of the clients.
Part of the parish nurse's role involves helping the client to access services, and coming alongside the client to speak with their physician or other service providers. The parish nursing network at Heritage Park Temple is also committed to providing formalized teaching and counselling through workshops, classes and support group settings that are open to both the corps and community.
The topics of conversation with the nurse vary. Some clients inquire about their medication with questions about monitoring its effectiveness and understanding side effects. Others have health concerns regarding abnormal signs and symptoms, deciding on an appropriate course of treatment for cancer diagnosis, and making decisions on nutrition, exercise and lifestyle. Many also seek a parish nurse's counselling for depression and anxiety, addiction and substance abuse, concern for family members, grief and loneliness, and relationship problems.