Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

A Visitation Program for Seniors

September 12, 2016

9122016waitingMaking homebound visits is an important part of the ministry of the church, especially for older seniors who are vulnerable to isolation and poor quality of life. Yet too often they are neglected and left longing for visitors.

Julia Quiring Emblen, PhD, RN, was troubled by the lonely seniors she visited in her church. “Some told me the church community had all but forgotten about them,” she writes in her article, “A Compassionate Visitation Program for Church Homebound Elders” from Journal of Christian Nursing.

Many of the elders Julia visited had been leaders of the church for years. “Recalling how much service these former spiritual pillars had given to the congregation, I felt sad that now, when they were in need, they received so little,” Julia said. She was determined to improve the care of the homebound elders in her church.

Realizing that older seniors need support, a Compassionate Visitation Program was initiated. Most of the volunteers were in their 60s or 70s. It soon became apparent that more emphasis was needed on making the visit experience enjoyable for recipients and satisfying to the visitors.

The program developed general focus points using the acrostic HOMEBOUND to help visitors remember to incorporate Humor, Observation, Music, Encouragement, etc. Parts of the program include an awareness of Nutritional issues and even the Death of the visitee.

Active listening is a nursing skill that can be taught to visitors who can listen to a person’s stories about the past and concerns about the future. Allowing them to share their pain validates their experience and helps decrease the loneliness of chronic pain. Visitors can learn to be present, listen to the visitees, help them process their feelings, and explore healthy responses.

Over time, guidelines and a structure for the Compassionate Visitation Program were developed with a Visit Facilitator coordinating the program for the church.

A friendly visit can encourage and lighten some of the lonely hours for those who have little to do during their long days. “It takes time and planning on the part of the visitor,” Julia concludes, “but the time pays off when the visitor is leaving and hears, ‘Come back soon! I really enjoy our time together.’”

Are there homebound seniors in your church who are longing for visitors? Read the full JCN article for more tips and program ideas.

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This JCN article offers 2.5 CE contact hours. Become a member of Nurses Christian Fellowship and receive JCN regularly as a member benefit, as well as discounts on all CE.

Church Attendance Really Helps!

July 7, 2016

772016churchNurses are in an excellent position to offer spiritual support to patients—and can do so with the backing of research connecting faith and health! A recent study in JAMA Internal Medicine reports that attending religious services can help you live longer.

In a study of 74,534 women from 1996-2012, religious service attendance was associated with lower risk of mortality from all-causes, including cardiovascular and cancer death. Attending >1 time weekly led to a 33% less chance of dying, once a week attendance decreased mortality by 26%, and even some attendance decreased mortality 13%. The effect of religious service attendance was stronger than that of any other form of participation in a social group.

A large European study also found that participation in religious organizations offers health benefits beyond those gained from other forms of social participation. Study authors conclude that religion and spirituality may be an “underappreciated resource” that physicians can explore with patients.

Kathy Schoonover-Shoffner, PhD, RN
Director, Nurses Christian Fellowship/USA

Spiritual Nutrition

April 20, 2015

Spiritual NutritionWhen I reflect on the building blocks of nutrition for physical health, I am reminded of the importance of the building blocks for spiritual health.

For example, protein found in fish, chicken and beans builds muscle for physical strength. When patients lack healthy protein sources, signs of malnutrition appear. Without Jesus, the living Messiah, we can lack basic nutrients of life. In 2 Timothy 2:1, Paul writes that “the promise of life” is in Christ Jesus.

Starches found in bread and rice give us daily energy, whereas Scripture is our spiritual bread. We need to nourish our faith daily through reading and studying God’s Word. Jesus responded to Satan by quoting from Scripture, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).

Vegetables supply the nutrients for each cell in our body, yet many of our diets lack an adequate intake. Thus, I couldn’t help but think of prayer in comparison to vegetables. Although prayer is vital for our faith, we often fall short on the amount of time we spend in prayer. Being busy isn’t an excuse. “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (Luke 5:16).

The building block of our faith is also found in praise and worship. I think of this as fruit. When we lift our voices in song exalting the goodness and excellence of our gracious Heavenly Father, we experience the sweetness of his presence. It is rich in nutrients, yet leaves us hungry for more and more! “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name” (Hebrews 13:15).

Eat from the bounty of the Lord’s Table, feasting on all the sustenance he provides–both physically and spiritually. From Psalm 23:5, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.”

A toast to health!

NCFI CARES

Carrie Dameron, MSN, RNBC, who is a regular contributor for Nurses Christian Fellowship International and Journal of Christian Nursing. She provides resources for Christian nursing on her blog http://blog.carriedameron.com/.

Lessons from the Infusion Room

February 3, 2015

IV Drip“I’ve been an Infusion Room regular for over seven years. It’s like a local coffee shop, only with needles, tubes, and dangling fluid bags,” writes David Kenagy in the Journal of Christian Nursing. “People who need medications pumped into their bloodstreams gather here, but not as hungry diners. Some have nerve disease, others arthritis, and some cancer. Folks in this room understand affliction.”

Enter Nurse Laura.

“Terrific” is the word used by other nurses and patients alike to describe Nurse Laura. What makes her so unique, so universally appreciated?

David Kenagy writes in raw detail how Nurse Laura not only provides compassionate nursing care, but uses her skills to initiate honest conversations with patients about physical and emotional difficulties.

“Nursing care means caring enough to talk toilet. It means Love your neighbor as yourself. It knows, Perfect love casts out fear,” writes Kenagy.

And for some, Nurse Laura is faithful until the end, when the nursing plan is simply being there. She is there for the patient. She is there for the families – sometimes grieving parents. It is the ministry of presence. It is communicating love, and caring, and importance at life’s most significant moments.

It is Essential Nursing 101. And few do it better than Nurse Laura.

Read more about what makes Nurse Laura so special in David Kenagy’s article, “Lessons from the Infusion Room,” from the Journal of Christian Nursing, Jan-Mar 2015.

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Become a member of NCF and regularly receive the peer-reviewed Journal of Christian Nursing as one of your member benefits. Or, subscribe to JCN.

Talking about Mortality

November 24, 2014

Being Mortal“Am I going to die?” Doctors are often uncomfortable with the question and generally respond with a variety of treatment options that ultimately may be ineffective, costly, and detrimental to the quality of a patient’s life.

Dr. Atul Gawande wants to change this. His new book, Being Mortal, identifies how the medical system fails the dying by not addressing what truly matters to the patient at the end of life. He writes, “Medical professionals concentrate on repair of health, not sustenance of the soul.”

“I am in a profession that has succeeded because of its ability to fix,” Dr. Gawande writes. “If your problem is fixable, we know just what to do. But if it’s not? The fact that we have had no adequate answers to this question is troubling and has caused callousness, inhumanity, and extraordinary suffering.”

Dr. Gawande recommends that families and health care professionals ask these key questions of someone with a serious illness:

  • “What is your own understanding of your condition or your health?”
  • “What are your fears and worries for the future?”
  • “What are your goals if your health worsens?”
  • “What are the trade-offs you’re willing to make in your life?” or “What outcome would be unacceptable to you?”

Understanding a patient’s answers provides guidance for what really matters to the person and how to move forward with a valuable treatment plan. Many of these questions are used by palliative care and hospice providers for people facing the very end of life. Dr. Gawande lobbies for asking these questions earlier in the healthcare process as a positive contribution toward patient care.

Dr. Gawande makes his point clear: “People with serious illness have priorities besides simply prolonging their lives. Surveys find that their top concerns include avoiding suffering, strengthening relationships with family and friends, being mentally aware, not being a burden on others, and achieving a sense that their life is complete. Our system of technological medical care has utterly failed to meet these needs, and the cost of this failure is measured in far more than dollars. The question therefore is not how we can afford this system’s expense. It is how we can build a health care system that will actually help people achieve what’s most important to them at the end of their lives.”

A gifted storyteller, Dr. Gawande introduces readers to people in difficult, critical situations and invites us into the deeply personal discussions of navigating the road ahead. Through these real experiences, he shows us how we have the opportunity to refashion our institutions, our culture, and our conversations in ways that transform the possibilities for the last chapters of people’s lives.

Dr. Gawande concludes, “Our ultimate goal, after all, is not a good death but a good life to the very end.”

Atul Gawande does not write from a Christian world view, but we are recommending the book for nurses and other healthcare practitioners because of his practical and affirmative support of the dignity of human life and respect for each person in making decisions about medical treatment.

NCF Nebraska Promotes Healthy Clergy Week

October 16, 2014

Clergy WeekIt’s Healthy Clergy Week in Nebraska, thanks to the efforts of Nurses Christian Fellowship of Nebraska.

The NCF nurse chapter in Omaha submitted a proclamation request to the governor of Nebraska to proclaim Healthy Clergy Week for October 12-17, 2014. They are encouraging all nurses and health care professionals in their state to do something special for their clergy that improves their overall health and well-being. As clergy take small steps toward better health, they become positive role models for their congregations.

At Saint Columbkille Catholic Church in Papillion NE, priests were given a gym bag, ear buds, iTunes card, and information/educational material on how to stay healthy. They also received a memory foam pillow because good sleep is essential to health. One priest even received a Fitbit activity tracker! All these items were donated by the parish nurse team.

The NCF Nebraska chapter reached out to the Faith Community Nursing Network in their community and now they have partnered together to reach out to over 400 churches in the Omaha/Metro area to see what needs they have for improving health in their clergy and congregations. Once the NCF chapter identifies the needs of the clergy and their congregations, they plan to apply for grants to fund the costs associated with their project.

The idea came from an article published in the Journal of Christian Nursing (article free for a limited time). The group hosted a continuing education journal club review to discuss the article, “Health Report for U.S. Seminary Schools: Are We Training Healthy Clergy?”

The NCF of Nebraska chapter hosts monthly meetings and quarterly accredited continuing educational programs which are highly valued by their members and the community.

You can partner with NCF of Nebraska by praying for the health of your clergy this week and considering how to make Healthy Clergy Week a year-round event in your area.

Are You Okay?

April 4, 2014

April-June 2014 JCNHow do we bring God into the anxieties of our lives? “Nurses are always caring for others, sometimes to the exclusion of caring for ourselves,” writes Kathy Schoonover-Shoffner in her new JCN editorial, “How Are You Doing?”

Recently Kathy discovered a great resource for dealing with her anxiety, a spiritual discipline called The Daily Examen. It’s a time to invite God into all aspects of the day, asking him to point out what he has done for me, what he is doing, what he wants to do, where I can walk differently with him,” Kathy learned. “It is stopping and reflecting on the fact that God is here with me, in every moment.”

Kathy’s personal interest in learning how to deal with anxiety arose from publishing the feature article, “Anxiety: Etiology, Treatment, and Christian Perspectives,” in the Journal of Christian Nursing, April-June 2014.

Anxiety is a normal response to stress and danger but it can become excessive and uncontrollable for some people. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting 18% or more adults. As nurses, it is important to learn more about pathophysiology and treatment of anxiety, including nursing and Christian perspectives that can help.

“As Christians, how might we better identify and manage anxiety?” Kathy asks. See her JCN editorial about how to become aware of God’s calming presence in the midst of anxious moments.

Read the full JCN article which includes 2.5 available contact hours. (NCF members will receive 30% off the regular price of JCN CE!)

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You can receive every issue of the peer-reviewed Journal of Christian Nursing by becoming a member of NCF, along with other member benefits. Or, subscribe to JCN.

Heart Health

February 20, 2014

Heart Health“Give me your hand,” the surgeon said to student nurse Peggy Heppner during cardiovascular surgery. As she anxiously held the patient’s heart in her palm, she felt the unforgettable power of that one beating muscle in a person’s life.

Peggy reflects on how her own heart was dead from sin but restarted by the power of Jesus’s resurrection. “Like undergoing heart surgery, Jesus healed my heart with his restorative love.”

Read more of her article, Heart Health, from the Student TXT Topical Collection in the Journal of Christian Nursing, January – March, 2014.

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If you’re a nursing student or educator, find out how you can use more Student TXT articles for discussions in your classroom or campus group.

 Nursing students who join NCF receive the Journal of Christian Nursing as a member benefit at the greatly reduced membership rate of $35.

Take Care!

January 10, 2014

Nurses, as caregivers, are often the last people to take care of themselves.  Many nurses don’t take the time to replenish themselves; skipping meal breaks, feeling pulled in many directions, yet continuing to give and give.

Foot SpaAirline emergency prep procedures instruct us to put on our own oxygen mask before assisting others with theirs.  This is an example that needs to be applied to our lives.  If we aren’t getting the “oxygen” we need, then how can we be fully useful to others in the long run?

Standard self-care recommendations include eating right and exercising.  Those are great things to incorporate into one’s lifestyle, but we can go beyond that to personalize our own self-care.

What are your immediate needs?  What happens if they are not met?  What refuels you?  The answer may depend or your personality – if introverted, you may find soaking in a tub or reading a good book are helpful; if extroverted, relaxing with friends might be what fills you up.

Don’t forget to be spiritually renewed!  If you work on a Sunday and miss church, take time for a “Sabbath” on your day off.  Listen to a sermon message while you drive to work.  Write encouraging scripture on a notecard and keep it in your pocket to reflect on throughout the day.  Seek to live by the Spirit and keep in step with the Spirit (Gal 5:22-25).

We all need to have our “tanks filled” in order to keep going.  Set some priorities and goals for this year.  Be willing to say “no”, even to some good things, so that you can invest in better things.  Find things that refuel your tank and make taking care of yourself a priority!  You’ll be a better nurse for it!

by Bonnie Hann, RN, BSN, BS-Missionary Nursing
NCF Campus Liaison

Read more from the InterVarsity Blog, “Are Physical Health and Spiritual Health Connected”.

Rest for the Vacationing Soul

July 18, 2013

Vacation Reflection

Vacations can be exhausting. Often I return from a vacation more tired than when I left. Yes, a change of scenery can be wonderful, but I’ve learned that time away from work does not automatically create a restful soul.

The opposite can also be true. Sometimes, when I’m at my busiest, I find a restful center in the Lord that burns like a furnace to fuel my hectic pace. Peace in the crazy. But then, when I neglect my spirit, busy-ness can easily lead to burnout.

How do I balance work and rest, pressure and relaxation, relationships and solitude? A two-week vacation isn’t likely to restore my soul if I’m not practicing restful living the other 50 weeks of the year. I long to put into practice David’s reflection in Psalm 62:1: “My soul finds rest in God alone.”

“Rest is a radical thing in our day and age,” writes Adele Ahlberg Calhoun in the Spiritual Disciplines Handbook from InterVarsity Press. “It reminds us that we are human beings, not human doings. We are meant to live sane lives that partake of a deep and playful holy leisure. There is time enough in each day for all that God requires of us. And part of what he requires of us is rest.”

Nurses often tell their patients, “You need to rest.” Perhaps it’s time we listened to our own advice. Whether you’re traveling, sitting on the porch, or enjoying celebrations with family and friends, our NCF staff team prays for your rest and restoration this summer.

May you make time to place yourself in the delightful presence of the Lord and be renewed to serve him in the places he has called you.

Shelley Soceka, NCF Communications

How do you find rest for your soul? Leave a comment!