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ESTABLISHING A PARISH NURSE PROGRAM

  1. Communication and Collaboration:
    • Share the idea with the parish, parish council, etc.
    • Share the idea with the community, e.g. local hospital, civic organizations, senior centers, etc.
  1. Program Plan:
    • Form a Steering Committee:
      • Develop job descriptions
      • Develop pay grades (if this is not a volunteer program)
      • Prepare a budget (salaries, supplies, educational resources, etc.)
      • Write a letter of agreement between participants (if another health care institution is participating in some way in the program)
      • Establish an orientation process for the parish, and for the parish nurses
      • Develop a commissioning service for use in the parish
      • Design program standards and a tool for tracking the e number and type of interactions a parish nurse engages in
      • Create an ongoing process to evaluate the program’s success
      • (SINCE ALL PROGRAMS ARE ADAPTED TO FIT LOCAL NEEDS, THE ABOVE CAN BE DONE AS/IF NEEDED).


ROLE OF THE PARISH NURSE

Health Consultant – consult on needs; give assessment; follow-up visits to discharged patients.
Education - provide new programs on health, stress, parenting, teen-age suicide, flu shots, etc.  (This is limited only by the needs of your community).
Advocate - assist people with dealing with agencies and clarifying information.
Liaison - to resources available within the community.
Trainer or Volunteers - train lay volunteers on how to visit the sick.
Healer - help people to understand how faith/wellness are related.



POTENTIAL PARTNEERS AND IMPLEMENTING A PARISH NURSE PROGRAM

  1. A Parish Nurse Program can be:
    • Parish based: volunteer or paid
    • Institution based: volunteer or paid
    • Combination of parish/institution: volunteer or paid


  2. Potential Partners
    • Once program basics are in place, potential partners can be sought through the following:
      • community inquiries and networks
      • talks presented to parish leaders and congregations
      • discussions with pastor, parish staff, and lay leadership


  3. When assessing whether a partnership with a parish will be viable, the healthcare organization should do the following:
    • identify the needs and priorities of the populations it wishes to serve
    • ascertain whether the parish has sufficient staff and financial resources to support a parish nurse program
    • assess parishioners’ and parish leaders’understanding of the parish nurse concept, the mission of holistic health, and the structure of the parish nurse program
    • determine parish’s level of commitment to stipulations in the letter of agreement
    • assess the willingness of church leaders to integrate the parish nurse into the staff

     


GUIDELINES FOR PARISH NURSE PROGRAMS

(The following is adapted from material provided by the Catholic Diocese of Allentown. Contact and resource information was changed to make them relevant to parishes and individuals in the Catholic Diocese of Belleville, IL).


What is a PARISH NURSE?

The American Nurses Assn. “Scope and Standards of Parish Nursing Practice” defines a Parish Nurse as “a professional, registered nurse who serves as a member of t he ministry staff of a faith community to promote health as wholeness of the faith community, its family and individual members, and the community it serves through the independent practice of nursing as defined by the Nurse Practice Act in the jurisdiction in which her or she practices and the standards of practice set forth in the ‘Scope and Standards of Parish Nursing Practice’ document.”

A parish nurse should possess the following qualifications:

  • Graduate of an accredited school or college of nursing
  • Current licensure as a professional registered nurse (RN)
  • Three or more years of nursing experience in the clinical setting
  • Possession of a valid driver’s license
  • Completion of a parish nurse preparation program, such as the Parish Nursing Program offered at Deaconess Hospital, St. Louis, MO.

OPPORTUNITIES FOR PARISH NURSE PROGRAMS

Personal and Home Health Assistance
  • Home visitation
  • Pre- and post- hospital preparation
  • Nursing home and hospital visitation
  • Expectant and new parent visits
Health Education Topics
  • Prescription and over-the-counter drug information
  • Abstinence education
  • Mental health and depression
  • Chemical dependency
  • Death and dying issues
  • Nutrition and meal planning
  • Stress management
  • Caring for the aged
  • Pre-school hygiene
Coordinating Volunteer Services
  • Care-givers support group
  • Hosptial/nursing home visitation
  • HIV/AIDS support group
  • Bereavement support group
Arrange Health Monitoring and Screening
  • Blood pressure screening
  • Cholesterol screening
Community Health Resources and Referrals
  • Health care services for uninsured
  • Transition to nursing home
  • Special needs resources
  • Hospital/clinic information
  • Hospice care options


WORKING WITH A PARISH NURSE COORDINATOR

(In the Diocese of Allentown the Catholic Hospitals each employ a Parish Nurse Coordinator.)

Functions of the Parish Nurse Coordinator include:

  • Assisting parishes in the development of Parish Nurse Programs
  • Offering educational programs and activities through their respective facilities
  • Providing information, support, networking opportunities and continuing education to Parish Nurses
  • Coordinating available community and hospital resources as a referral network
  • Provide consultation and leadership services to Parish Nurses for evaluation and assessment of parish programs


IMPLEMENTING A PARISH NURSE PROGRAM

  1. Assess your resources.  Identify the financial and human resources available to be certain that the program will be able to function effectively.
  2. Educate the parish. Parishioners should be aware that the Parish Nurse’s message is one of wellness and specifically holistic health, not hands-on care like giving insulin injections or changing dressings.
  3. Establish a health cabinet/committee. Gather a core group to establish the purpose and goals of the program.  Include professionals within the health care industry, if possible.
  4. Choose a proven model.  Evaluate and select from the following models, based on the needs and resources of the parish:
    • Congregation based volunteer
    • Congregation based employee
    • Institution based volunteer
    • Institution based employee
  5. Develop and adequate funding source. Address all costs, even if the program is volunteer. Consider the cost of office supplies, mileage reimbursement, speaker’s fees, and informational materials.


INSURANCE AND LIABILITY ISSUE TO CONSIDER

Insurance Coverage

Insurance coverage is dependent upon the relationship of the parish nurse to the parish.  If the parish contracts with an agency, hospital or healthcare service, the agency must provide proof of professional liability insurance covering the nurse.  Additionally, the outside agency must name the parish and the Diocese of (Belleville) as an additional insured under the agency’s professional liability insurance.

If the parish directly employs the nurse or utilizes a volunteer parish nurse, then the diocesan insurance program automatically covers the parish and the parish nurse. This coverage only applies while the nurse is working or volunteering for the parish (not with the nurse is working for other organizations).

There is no coverage for nurses dispensing medication or making a medical diagnosis or for a physician participating in a parish’s health ministry.

Transportation

Most parish nurses and volunteers will use their personal automobiles to carry out their activities.  As such, they MUST maintain automobile liability insurance in the amount determined by the Diocesan Insurance Office.  Proof of this coverage must be on file at the parish.


ADDITIONAL LIABILITY ISSUES AND CONCERNS

Pre-Screening

Considering the nature of parish nursing and the range of risk involved, verification of credentials and background checks must be performed on parish nurses whether employed or a volunteer.

The background check must include employment and personal references, a criminal background check and a driver record check.  References should be contacted by the pastor or administrator, while the criminal and driver record checks can be requested by contacting the diocesan office of the Chancellor for directions.

Failure to conduct a background and credential check will greatly increase the parish’s liability associated with the parish health ministry program.  If the parish contracts with an outside agency or healthcare center for nursing services, they should verify that the agency performs these same checks.

General Guidelines for Parish Nurses

The most common allegation against a parish nurse would be that he or she overstepped the boundaries of their professional expertise.  Adhering to the following guidelines will help reduce the risk associated with operating a Parish Nurse program.

  • Parish Nurses must keep records on all parishioner-clients.  The records are confidential and should be kept in a locked cabinet.  Even though a parish Nurse may be reporting to the pastor or other administrator, the records are confidential unless otherwise released with the client’s written permission.
  • A Parish Nurse must no provide a medical diagnosis.  Appropriate procedures should be followed for referral to physicians and other healthcare providers as needed.
  • A Parish Nurse must not dispense medication. This includes non-prescription or over-the-counter medication.
  • All abuse involving minors or adults must be reported to the appropriate government agency.

All acts delegated within the scope of professional nursing to an LPN or less skilled assistant must be in compliance with state requirements.



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