What faith community nurses do

May 11, 2022

The NZ Faith Community Nurses Association has been active for over 20 years, but strangely it is not well known in the New Zealand nursing scene.

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Based on the community, with clients drawn from an interdenominational background, faith community nursing provides a service in many and varied health-care situations. Let me introduce some of our scopes of practice.

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COVID issues, with fears of pain, illness and death, and isolation in the community, open the door for faith community nurses (FCNs) to provide practical help, such as food and home help, and reassurance and hope to encourage the elderly in particular. This reassurance comes in the form of regular phonecalls and prayer support, which provide information and let the client know they are not alone.

Many who have had surgery delayed need proactive care — such clients need checking on to detect any deterioration of their condition, to lighten the load of overloaded general practitioners.

Valma, a registered nurse with wide experience in public health nursing, has been an active FCN for many years. With expertise in community nursing, as a practice nurse and now a rural-based FCN, Valma has used her teaching skills with nursing students who helped her in clinical situations during the 2021 COVID lockdown. In one case, with district nurses overloaded, she was asked if she would care for a client who required dressings to a discharging cyst on the back; this continued for two months until the patient healed.

With long COVID rearing its head following the pandemic, the FCN has a useful role working with local medical practitioners to help follow up clients in the community and monitor their progress. There is great scope for FCNs to become the doctor’s hands and feet — they are able to provide professional care and liaise with medical and pastoral teams in the community.

In a climate where nursing staff are limited, and with burn-out so common, the FCN can step in and support the needs of many who may be forgotten.

Dorothy Finlay, RN, RM,
NZFCNA Board Member

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