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A trial that saw University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT) become one of the first Trusts in the UK to work in partnership with Parish Nursing Ministries UK to support patients to recover in their own homes will continue.

In August 2016, a parish nurse pilot project launched on the surgical wards at Furness General Hospital (FGH) and it focused on providing care for those patients that were medically well enough to be discharged from FGH but who may benefit from a period of extra support and monitoring in their own home.

Lynne Dack, Matron for Surgery and Critical Care, UHMBT, said: “All parish nurses are registered nurses and are appointed through the local church. In our case, our parish nurse, Ruth McDonald is employed by Emmanuel Community Church in Barrow. Patients of any or no faith are eligible for parish nursing. The main aim of the service is to further support patients in their own home to enable them to recover from their operation fully, potentially regain their independence and confidence in their home, and prevent re-admission to hospital. The success of the pilot project can be contributed to the team working together to set the inclusion criteria, strong team relationships and commitment to do the best for our patients and offer this quality service provided by the Parish Nurse. It works so well because a parish nurse is able to provide the time required to assess a person holistically in the home setting, and is not bound by the time restrictions of other services. Ruth is also offering and providing when accepted, our patients with prayer and spiritual care. The role aims to fill gaps and not replicate services already offered.”

The FGH pilot scheme ran from August 2016 to December 2016 and looked at providing additional support for patients in their own home for a period of six to eight weeks.

It involved ten patients who were discharged from Ward 2 at FGH. Some of the actions the parish nurse carried out to support the patients included:

 Monitoring patients’ vital signs to help identify any complications early, such as infection or the need for medication review

 Assisting patients to navigate the care system more effectively

 Health promotion, including monitoring of weight, dietary advice and strengthening exercises if appropriate

 Spiritual Care and Prayer is offered to all patients.

 Medications management and education

 Communication with primary care services to address patient’s ongoing health concerns

 Answering questions and sign post patients in the right direction for advice from other community services and agencies

 Supporting patients to build back up to their previous levels of activity and socialisation

Sue Smith Executive Chief Nurse at UHMBT said “The Trust is very proud and excited to be part of this newly forged partnership. Feedback from the patients that took part in the trial has been extremely positive and I am pleased to announce that the service will continue in the future. “As the NHS is seeking to forge relationships with other third sector organisations, as outlined in the Better Care Together strategy we have developed with our health and social care partners in the Bay, this pilot has demonstrated the positive impact of such partnerships, and we look forward to seeing it develop further.”

Ros Moore Chief Executive of Parish Nursing Ministries UK added “Parish Nursing Ministries exists to support the spread of high quality parish nursing services in the UK and I am delighted to have been part of this successful partnership. “My thanks go out to everyone involved particular Ruth McDonald, the Parish Nurse involved. Ruth is one of 103 parish nurses operating from churches across the UK, providing reliable evidence based community health care people every day of the week. I so hope the project will encourage more people to find out about parish nursing and what it can offer them.” For more information on parish nursing, please visit http://parishnursing.org.uk/

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