Health Transcends All Beliefs
How Faith Community Nursing is delivering care to those in need
Sometimes the most impactful health care isn’t traditional. At all.
Recently a handful of Texas Health Resources Faith Community Nurses could be found kneeling at the feet of people at a Denton homeless shelter, washing their feet.
Sure, this group of skilled nurses followed up the foot washing with a traditional foot exam, but it was the washing that changed everything.
“They walked up to the stations we had set up and we asked them to take their shoes and socks off and soak their feet and relax,” said Caryn Paulos, R.N., M.S.N., director of the Faith Community Nursing program and Patient Education at Texas Health. “We saw excitement – and some embarrassment, but we calmly explained we wanted them to relax and we wanted to wash their feet. And that’s when the tears came rolling down their faces.”
Since 2001, Texas Health’s Faith Community Nursing program has provided moments like this to more than 90 covenants in the North Texas faith community, from churches to temples to mosques and even homeless shelters like the one in Denton.
“We’re meeting people where they are and where the needs are,” Paulos said.
Faith Community Nursing is a specialized practice of professional nursing that focuses on the intentional care of the spirit as well as the promotion of whole-person health and the prevention or minimization of illness within the context of a faith community and the wider community. For Texas Health, it’s a way to continually care for the whole person: the mind, body and spirit.
The Texas Health Faith Community Nursing program enlists hospital-based faith community coordinators who work closely with individual nurses in congregations throughout North Texas to identify needs. While most of Texas Health’s Faith Community Nursing work is done in places of worship, Paulos said if a need is identified in a community we serve, the Faith Community Nursing program does everything it can to help.
The Denton homeless shelter was just one recent example.
“It was an emotional experience for everyone involved – words can’t describe the feeling when you can show someone that level of compassionate care,” Paulos said. “The intentional care of the spirit – and to those homeless people whose feet were maybe not in the best shape – it lifted their spirit to know that we accepted them. And we wanted to wash their feet. It meant something more than the action itself. There is so much need out there and when we can go out and truly help in the community, there is no greater feeling.”
Texas Health faith community coordinators and nurses promote health and healthy choices by educating the faith community about health services, wellness and disease prevention. This can include guidance on navigating the health system, attending physician appointments, assisting an individual with a plan to make healthier lifestyle choices or understanding their medications.
The program now has more than 200 unpaid professional nurses who volunteer their time to serve the North Texas congregations. To date, these faith community nurses have given more than 5,000 free flu vaccinations and provided numerous free health fairs, blood pressure screenings, fall prevention classes and chronic diseases self-management education.
“We’ve had the privilege of reaching more than 130,000 lives through these congregations and communities,” Paulos added. “We’re currently looking to expand the program to even more congregations without nurses so if you see a need, please let us know.”
Paulos recently was featured on Texas Health’s Texas Health Out Loud podcast, discussing the Faith Community Nursing program. To listen, click here.
Texas Health also recently featured its Faith Community Nursing program as part of a video series on community involvement. To see that video, click here.
If you believe your faith community would benefit from our Faith Community Nursing program, or if you would like more information, please contact Caryn Paulos at 682-236-7129 or visit TexasHealth.org/FaithCommunityNursing.
|Interested in becoming a Faith Community Health Promoter?
· Must be a licensed R.N.
· Complete required Basic Parish Nurse Preparation Course*
· Complete coordinator training through the International Parish Nurse Resource Center*
For more information, please contact Caryn Paulos, R.N., M.S.N., at 682-236-7129 or CarynPaulos@TexasHealth.org .
* All training and resources provided by Texas Health Resources.