Agherton Parish in Portstewart, it’s thought, will become the first Church of Ireland parish in Northern Ireland to employ a parish nurse.
Advertisements have been placed recently, seeking to recruit a registered nurse to join Agherton’s pastoral care team.
The parish has joined forces with Parish Nursing Ministries UK in this initiative, which the rector, the Rev Malcolm Ferry, said is aimed at improving the health and wellbeing of all parishioners.
“The parish nurse will look for those who are most vulnerable – the elderly, people coming home from hospital, new mums and others. This is a holistic approach to pastoral care,” Malcolm said.
“An important aspect to this new appointment will be that the parish nurse is able to pray as part of the spiritual care of those being visited. When a person in authority prays with someone, it really helps and gives them a real sense of God’s peace and wellbeing. The new parish nurse will also help train our volunteer pastoral visitors, giving them the confidence to share faith and encourage those they visit.”
The new Parish Nurse in Agherton Parish, Portstewart will “be an advocate for the parishioners who need extra support.”
Malcolm said he thought this is the first time in Northern Ireland that a parish nurse would be employed by a parish, for a parish. “The exact role of the parish nurse will depend on the person who gets the job and their skill set, but they will be out and about visiting parishioner homes doing their work” he said.
He added, “We are not replacing the doctor’s surgery or local hospital, we are instead complementing those excellent services. The parish nurse will be an advocate for the parishioners who need extra support.
Agherton Parish has stepped out bravely to cover the cost of this project, although we will seek future funding. It is a very bold move.”
The person appointed as parish nurse will go to England for training by Parish Nurses UK and through that training deliver the aims of the programme which are:
• Strengthening the engagement with God
• Underpinning the work of the rector
• Training and coordinating parish visitors and volunteers
• Helping build a parish community that gives people purpose for living
• Encouraging mutual support
• Complementing traditional health care
• Fostering spiritual well-being through a holistic approach
“Agherton is a vibrant parish of 600 families and through this initiative we want to help people stay healthy and remind them they are blessed by God,” Malcolm said. “We are all fearfully and wonderfully made by God himself, and as a church we want to encourage parishioners to be well in mind, body and soul.”
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