In 2014, West Leigh Baptist Church, in partnership with UK Parish Nursing Ministry, employed a registered nurse from its congregation and began to care for its community with support and practical love.
The Service, supported by grants from Baptist Insurance Company, has flourished over five years and now employs an Assistant Parish Nurse, Family Support Worker and Health Nutritionist. The team is supported by a dedicated group of volunteers undertaking everything from welcome duties and catering to health support and administration.
Lorraine Lawrence, Parish Nurse since 2014, meets weekly with the minister and pastoral team to review those with health needs or referrals from social services and other health care professionals, and to arrange home visits where needed.
“We accompany people to hospital, provide healthcare support, medicine management, screening and GP and hospital follow-up,” Lorraine said. “We help those with referrals for our services or residential care and offer clinics for operation preparation, blood pressure, well-being and diet.”
Parish Nursing is how we show we care
Aside from Lorraine’s 280 registered patients (around 120 are active at any time), the Service also provides a weekly drop-in nursing clinic for children and babies alongside its carers and tots group. The team provides one-to-one support on health, faith, lifestyle and parenting issues; group fitness and health education classes; and regular courses, such as Parenting Alpha, Baby Massage, Wonderfully Made (child development), Taste and See (bible-based exploration of food relationships) and Puzzling Questions (for those starting in faith).
On Wednesdays there are two fitness classes, a walk-in nursing clinic, and drop-in sessions with outside community health professionals. The church acts a Wednesday hub for dementia navigators, social workers and age advocates and many people stay all morning to participate. The busy Wednesday mornings are followed by an all-welcome lunch, cooked by volunteers, and have led to the formation of a new mid-week congregation, with 70 members, many of who are new to faith and have been introduced through West Leigh’s Parish Nursing Service.
“Friendships form, loneliness is overcome and relaxed discussion about faith happens over shared meals. The professional advice, support and practical care of our clinics, courses and team has formed a new mid-week life in our church. For some members, both longstanding and new, church now happens on Wednesday. We’re very thankful to the Baptist Insurance Company for supporting the unexpected blessing arising from our Parish Nursing Ministry.”