One action, one conversation, one referral can change the course of someone’s life. That’s what Episcopal Retirement Homes’ Parish Health Ministry (PHM) does, and that was what we did for an aging parishioner at Sts. Peter and Paul Church in Cincinnati.
The parishioner and her family desperately wanted her to be able to stay in her home, but they couldn’t make it happen alone. A visit from the parish nurse at Sts. Peter and Paul gave the parishioner and her family the confidence and resources they needed to facilitate senior care at home.
The parish nurse was able to provide the family with knowledge of senior services at their disposal, like Meals on Wheels, and steps to take that would make the home environment safer and more manageable for their mother.
We’re bringing holistic health services and senior care to the community.
Success stories like these happen throughout central and southern Ohio thanks to the Parish Health Ministry program. Churches of all faith traditions in the Cincinnati, Dayton, and Columbus areas and beyond have partnered with Parish Health Ministry to train and empower volunteers to carry out health ministries among their congregations.
The program started with just a handful of health programs and senior services at a few local churches. Today, participation has grown astronomically. Parish Health Ministry is operating out of 78 partner churches.
As with all Episcopal Retirement Homes’ undertakings, the parish ministry believes in holistic wellness and senior care. The whole program is based on the idea that health is not just the absence of disease. In our ministry, wellness addresses the person as a whole taking into account physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health.
PHM partners are able to provide their congregations and communities with diabetes screenings, senior outreach, workshops on infant or senior care, and a variety of support and networking groups.
We’re bridging the gap between health and spiritual care.
“Parish Health Ministry is a movement that asks churches to renew their role in health care,” says Jeanne Palcic, Program Manager of Parish Health Ministry at ERH.
Palcic, a registered nurse, brought the program idea to ERH in 1998 after studying the parish nursing model created in the 1980s by Lutheran minister and hospital chaplain Granger Westberg.
“He felt there was a separation between the faith community and the medical community,” she says. “He saw that a nurse from a church was a natural ﬁt to be able to talk in both worlds, to connect the faith community with the medical community in caring for the whole person.”
Palcic shared the idea with the board members of ERH. Since the program complemented the ERH mission, the idea was given a green light.
“It was really Jeanne’s passion: she brought the whole thing to the board,” recalls Kathy Ison, Vice President of Affordable Living and In-Home Services.
We’re building relationships within the community.
Parish Health Ministry has deep connections to the community. The grassroots project relies heavily on volunteer support to execute its health and senior care programs.
Nurses from the community work fill the parish ministry ranks, acting as experts to advise parishioners on a variety of health and senior care topics. Plenty of other lay people, who aren’t medical professionals, get involved too. In 2011, 664 volunteers gave almost 18,000 hours of service. Only about a third were volunteer nurse hours.
Parish Health Ministry wouldn’t be the thriving program it is without the commitment of lay volunteers from the community.
We’re creating a proactive presence.
Our Parish Health Ministry teams are made of passionate individuals who aim to promote wholeness of body, mind and spirit in their congregations and communities. As our programs spread, we continue to provide great resources for congregations, patients and hospital professionals while promoting wellness for thousands of people in a growing list of communities.