Pastoral Care Nursing
Pastoral Care Nursing, also known as Parish Nursing, is a holistic, caring ministry that combines the education and experience of a Registered Nurse (RN) or Enrolled Nurse (EN) with some theological education. The Lutheran Nurses Association of Australia was instrumental in introducing the concept of parish nursing to Australia in 1991. The first parish nurses were appointed in 1996.
Since 1996, 33 people have served in the Pastoral Care Nurse ministry in 17 parishes, two aged-care facilities and one college in four districts of the Lutheran Church of Australia (LCA). The congregations they have served are located in state capital cities, in regional capitals and in rural areas.
The pastoral care nurse
A pastoral care nurse
- is an experienced Registered Nurse (RN) or Enrolled Nurse (EN) with current registration
- has had, or is willing to undertake, some theological education
- works in a congregation, parish, church school or aged-care facility.
A retired nurse who has not maintained registration, or a person with a background in some other health-related profession, may serve as a pastoral health care worker.
The role of a pastoral care nurse includes the following:
- initiates and leads and/or participates in health-related programs that assist members of the congregation and community to achieve wholeness of body, mind and spirit
- integrates faith and health for people in a way that is seldom offered outside the church. The spiritual dimension of the person is central to the practice of pastoral care nursing
- makes home/hospital/nursing home visits to parishioners and others, as needed
- refers people to community resources (bereavement support, legal services, alternative medicines, etc) and is not involved in hands-on nursing or the duplication of services that are already available
- coordinates community resources through networking with individuals and agencies, being especially helpful to people with multiple needs
- supports the involvement of volunteers in the congregation’s health ministry by linking people who can help, encouraging them to build on and strengthen their capacities to understand and care for one another
- counsels individuals through a ministry of careful listening, conversation and prayer, encouraging and empowering individuals to become more active partners in managing their personal health
- partners with the pastor and other parish ministries to enhance the health, life and ministry of the congregation.
The LCA’s Introduction to Pastoral Care Nursing course is available to individuals by distance education. The course is designed to equip registered or enrolled nurses for the role of pastoral care nurses working in congregations, church schools or aged-care facilities. Others, such as hospital visitors and chaplains, lay assistants and elders, have also found this course helpful.