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  • Writer's pictureEve Wright

Parish Nursing at St Paul’s Camberley

For over a decade, Sandra Higgins has been a Parish Nurse at St Paul’s Camberley. Her journey as a Parish Nurse in this vibrant community offers a glimpse into the unique role that healthcare and spiritual support play in church ministry.

From her very first weeks at St Paul’s, Sandra was thrust into critical situations that tested her skills and resolve. Early into her tenure, she was called to assist someone in a mental health crisis, a situation that highlighted the critical need for quick and effective intervention and the importance of collaborative support from local NHS services. This was quickly followed by providing care and support to a member of the community with secondary breast cancer, which transitioned into end-of-life care within weeks. Sandra describes these moments of service as a privilege, underscoring the deep emotional and spiritual connections that form when supporting someone in their final days.

The support of another Parish Nurse in the locality proved invaluable, offering mutual support as they both navigated the complexities of serving their community. Their partnership was further strengthened by the addition of Jocelyn, whose collaboration with Sandra brought new depth and strength to the service they provided together for nearly four years.

In her ongoing mission to meet the varied needs of her community, Sandra initiated several programmes. She set up and ran a pan-addiction recovery course and a parenting course, later handing these over to leaders more specialised in those areas. Her innovative approach continued with the establishment of a monthly pop-up clinic at the community’s daytime event, Oasis. Here, something as simple as a blood pressure check often opens the door to broader health conversations, providing vital information and referrals to other services. Oasis itself has become a community hub, known for its social prescribing and array of services including Citizens Advice Bureau, debt and IT help, and even a Macmillan Navigator.

Home visits and advocacy remain a critical component of Sandra’s work, ensuring that individual needs are met with empathy and efficiency. The breadth of situations she has encountered speaks to the diverse challenges faced by the community and the essential role that Parish Nurses play in bridging the gap between healthcare needs and available services.

As the NHS faces mounting pressures and complex demands, the role of Parish Nurses like Sandra becomes ever more crucial. They not only augment statutory and voluntary health services but also enrich them with spiritual care, a core aspect of healing and well-being.

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