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  • Writer's pictureEve Wright

Holistic Healing: A Parish Nurse's Story

Here is a story from one of our Parish Nurses and her experience supporting a member of her community:

Edith* was 82 and lived a full and active life until she developed mitral valve disease. In addition she sustained a leg injury which resulted in her being housebound for five months. I began visiting Edith at home weekly. Initially our conversations were generally about family and news headlines, but those visits set the foundation for a trusting professional relationship. As I listened I realised that Edith and her family had questions about her diagnosis so I sourced booklets from the British Heart Foundation to help them understand her diagnosis, investigations and treatment better.

Edith felt frustrated at the loss of her old active life. Slowly she began to take short trips out with family to go shopping or visit them. She longed to be able to visit the local church community café again. I arranged to pick up Edith one morning to visit the café. As we entered the building she said she had thought the only way she would enter the building again would be for her funeral. Visiting the cafe helped her maintain her friendships and relationships with others, reducing her sense of social isolation. In the following weeks her feelings of self-esteem and self-worth improved as she once again felt part of her community.

In time Edith began to deteriorate and once again she became housebound. I continued to visit her at home. Edith was now comfortable to discuss with me how she felt about the impact of her illness. I was able to explore with her where she found hope and strength to help her cope with her diagnosis and knowing it was a life limiting illness. As I left she said it had been good to talk about things that really mattered.

A few weeks later the country went into lockdown due to the Covid 19 Pandemic. I continued to support Edith with regular telephone calls. Edith was becoming increasingly breathless with oedematous legs and swollen abdomen. She was soon admitted to hospital. I was able to speak to her on her mobile phone as visitors were not allowed. I asked if she would like me to contact the hospital chaplain to visit her. She said she would like that and so I made a referral to the chaplain who was able to visit Edith in the days before she died peacefully with her family present.

Spiritual care runs throughout my nursing practice and is provided to those of any faith or no faith; helping people to find meaning and purpose, hope and strength in their situation and to experience love and support them in their relationships. Parish Nursing gives me the privilege of time to journey alongside people, to listen to what is important to them and to respond to their individual need.

*Names changed to protect anonymity.

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