Seven Villages Parish Nurse

Hildersham Parish Church employs a Parish Nurse who works 3 days a week, serving the needs of residents in Hildersham and six nearby villages.

The project is funded by charitable donations from local residents, trusts and parish councils. 

The Parish Nurse has an average of 80 patient contacts each month, working in various ways, for example:

  • Accompanying a patient to a health appointment
  • Giving simple advice about a health issue over the phone
  • Checking a patient fully understands and can carry out clinical instructions
  • Helping in the planning of end-of-life care
  • Co-ordinating the support of friends, family and local volunteers

The Parish Nurse works closely with statutory agencies, including the local GP surgery where she has an honorary contract allowing access to medical records.

How did they get started?

In 2012 some villagers in West Wratting identified considerable gaps in care, rehabilitation service provision and problems with existing services. Neighbours and friends did their bit but their efforts were uncoordinated.

Carers needed information, as well as help and support in caring for people with dementia, long-term conditions, terminal illness, people with disability. They knew there were also people with alcohol dependency, mental illness, who were being abused and needed help.

They approached the local vicar to see if something could be done. A group of local people met to discuss the issues. They wanted to develop something holistic, encompassing physical, mental and spiritual health and well-being, which worked for and with local communities. A group meeting was held at the village hall, looking at a variety of options.

They chose the Parish Nurse model because they felt it was the safest and best option. It functions under a professional body (RCN), provides supervision and training, focuses on the person as a whole and covers all age groups.

Although attached to the Church, the nurse will serve all, whatever their faith or if they have none. 

The local Anglican Ministry team covering the villages of Great and Little Abington, Hildersham, Weston Colville, Balsham, West Wratting and West Wickham undertook to lead this process.  With populations ranging from 200 to 1500, no one village was large enough to develop an initiative on its own, but the seven villages together, with a total population of 4500, created significant opportunities for learning as well as development.

They agreed the post would be paid (unlike many other Parish Nurse posts) so that it could be sustainable in the longer term, and that it would be part time (all that could be afforded).  To learn and better understand how this post works within and between villages and other agencies, they decided it would be set up as a 3-year project with inbuilt evaluation. 

A formal Steering Group was set up to progress the work. After a considerable amount of work, Hildersham Parochial Church Council agreed to employ (and be responsible for) the nurse and project, on behalf of the other churches.  

How is it funded? 

All funding needed for the 3 years had to be secured before the project could start. The Steering Group had naively assumed they could obtain all the funding from Charitable Trusts but feedback from Trusts indicated they would have to demonstrate local support, not only in principle, but financially.

They were fortunate to have access to excellent practical advice pro bono from an independent fundraising company on how they might progress. By September 2015, they succeeded in raising enough of the total budget to proceed with the appointment process. More than a third of funding came from local individual contributions, about a half from (local and other) Charitable Trusts, local Churches, the Ely Diocese, and three Parish Councils also contributed.

Who helped with advice and guidance?

Numerous individuals and organisations helped with advice and guidance. 

The independent fundraising company has given advice which was crucial in enabling the project to progress.

Parish Nursing Ministries UK – through their Regional Co-ordinator - provided advice which enabled the project to become an accredited Parish Nurse Service, as expected.

A voluntary Management Team brings considerable knowledge and skills to the project. The team comprises a local GP, a retired Director of Addenbrooke's Trust, a retired Public Health Medicine Consultant and a nurse who is also a Trustee of Hildersham PCC, (the vicar of Hildersham was included until she left her post). 

The Parish Nurse benefits from continuing support from the Parish Nurse Ministry, the management team, the primary care team, other organisations with which she has established links, the Church Ministry team and from volunteers in the communities she serves.   

Find out more about Parish Nursing on the Parish Nursing Ministries UK website.

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