Redefining Health Care and the Church

We all know that Health Care in North America is the topic of many conversations.  Here in Canada there are cracks appearing in the overburdened system.  I read an article several years ago in a local paper, about the College of Physicians and Surgeons recommending the government to develop a Home-Care strategy for seniors and better health care for young people.  They go on to acknowledge the benefits of people receiving health care in their homes as maintaining health and ‘well-being’.  

I was a Home Care Nurse for 10 years and I understand the health benefits of keeping spouses in their homes together during their later years. In their home environment they continue to be in community with family, faith and friends.  In my experience as a Home Care Nurse and as a Faith Community Nurse, loneliness and loss of hope ranked high on the needs assessment scale.  By allowing people to remain in their home environment we remove further steps to alienation.  

With that said, the fact remains that there aren’t enough nurses and workers to support this system, and not all seniors can stay in their home.  The present structure fails us and that leaves boomer families scrambling to juggle schedules and care giving needs for not only themselves but their parents and their children. Not being able to look after their ailing parents themselves means having to take an insurmountable amount of time weaving through their options. This is mind boggling for most.   

LTC facilities and Assisted living organizations are also experiencing a reawakening in the wake of Covid-19.  How are they able to care for seniors with intentionality and compassion while maintaining high levels of Health Ministry metrics. 

The question rolling around in my mind is:  What is the Faith Community’s Role in all of this?  

Faith Communities are places of like minded people with a common belief system who spend most of life together from birth to death.  How do they respond to the members needs in this overtaxed health care system.  Many churches have developed ‘Care Ministries’ or other intentional ways of caring for their members and I commend them for this and say keep on, keep on!  But is there more that the church can do?  Faith Community Nursing is a very practical and spiritual ministry accessible to Faith communities.  Provided by an actively registered Nurse this ministry allows a professional to equip the volunteers as well as make in home assessments and provide one on one visits to parishioners.  When churches decide to be intentional about caring for their members this ministry fits the bill.  I am not suggesting we set out to replace the Health Care System, but let us walk along side one another in the best possible way.    

Recently I heard of four elderly woman who wanted to stay in their homes but just couldn’t for various reasons.  They decided to live together.  Then, if one of them needed occasional help with something they could help each other.  This is very ingenious!  

I am sure there are many ideas out there if we just contemplate long enough.  Faith communities are extended family and we need to start thinking like family.

What are your thoughts and ideas?  I want to hear them!

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The Waiting Room Adventure

The Waiting Room Adventure
I know you have all had the experience of waiting for something!
There is that paradox of anticipation mixed with frustration, hoping it will happen today and knowing it may not happen for a long time. God tells us patience is a virtue and as much as we try and let things play out there are also moments we get fed up or lose hope.
What comes to my mind is the obvious…..
like waiting in the ER department
You come in with the hope of being seen quickly but you never know when your name will be called. So you sit and wait…………………., finally you pull out a magazine, then another one, still waiting………… you start playing a game on your phone or answer your emails.
Finally you hear your name called, you are relieved and excited but then you find out it was just to get your health card number and complaint.
Then its back to your chair for another wait which could last 15mins to 8 hours. You’ve already exhausted the magazine rack and you’re all caught up on your emails and texts, now you start people watching.
Sometimes the room is very empty and that leaves you wondering why you are waiting so long. Other times the room is full to capacity and you try not to stare at the man in the corner who cant sit still and keeps going up to the info counter every 5 mins.
The mom beside you looks exhausted and is trying to entertain her crying, runny nosed, 18 month old and you hope and pray your immune system is up and running. Fully aware that it isn’t or you wouldn’t be here in the first place.
Then the automatic doors open and in come two paramedics with a stretcher holding a white haired frail man with an O2 mask and IV hung high over his head. Your heart goes out to him as your emotions flip flop from one scenario to another.
As you continue to look around there is something else you begin to see.
You notice that People, who look like nurses, or maybe they’re Doctors, or they could be cleaning personnel, whomever they are, they keep going in and out doors looking like they are busy or not. Maybe they are waiting for the next big thing to happen or maybe they are on their break _ you don’t know _ but _ it makes you wonder if you have been forgotten. And why is it that you are waiting so long anyway?
And the excitement doesn’t ever really end because you finally get called to “come on back” and they put you behind a curtain on a bed and someone asks you questions. again – usually the same questions. Then they disappear and your left to listen to the goings on around you.
My daughter in law just spent some time in the ER with my 4yr old grandson and let me tell you, she has a new appreciation for hospital staff. Her comment to me after they arrived back home was one of disbelief and awe for the medical staff.
-They witnessed someone having to be put in a separate room because they were out of control and kept banging on the window of the locked door,
– They had an elderly gentleman next to them who was having bowel issues and the nurses were so good to him but he obviously couldn’t control things.
– They heard someone wretching and someone else screaming and cursing. It was all very educational.
You have all experienced something similar I’m sure.
I have come to realize that waiting is a part of life whether the wait is long or short lived.
As a kid, the time from one Christmas to another was eternity.
We have to wait 9 months for the baby to arrive.
We’ve been waiting for Spring to really arrive.
This kind of waiting is really only temporary and we know with certainty that Christmas will arrive, the baby will come and Spring is around the corner.
But the wait is none the less long.
What about the wait time for things we really don’t know will happen in our life time. Like the unanswered prayers for loved ones, or a wayward child, or the addicted spouse, or relief from pain be it physical or mental or spiritual.
“What are we to do about these wait times?” We do not know they will have an end.
Life goes on even when we are waiting! But what does that life look like?
There have been times when I feel like I have been wasting away my time as I await the next big adventure. Then I slap myself on the side of the head and get focused.
Sometimes I want so much to be out there helping but there are soooo many places I could get involved that I become paralyzed and step back because I don’t’ know which one to choose.
At times I have felt far away from God and unsure of what He is asking me to do. But when I do go to Him in prayer I keep coming away with the same words over and over. Wait for my timing and just rest. Meet each day and do what is in front of you. BE in the PRESENT.
He reminds me of some of the old testament stories and how Abraham and Sarah waited 80 years to have a child!! Oh Lord I hope I don’t have to wait that long!
Or how Joseph, falsely in-prisoned, waits for a freed inmate to fulfill a promise to remember how good Joseph was to him, and bring it to Pharoah’s attention.
I love the story of Joseph because it hits a cord of reality with me. Life is not promised to be an easy road. Joseph new that well. He was sold by his brothers as a slave. I can imagine he felt great pain during that time of rejection and uncertainty – obviously not the life he thought was laid before him as the favored son. But God knew why He was allowing this.
Things then get a little better because he is trusted with Potifar’s business and he is loyal, and integral. Potifar’s wife tries to seduce him and he refuses to succumb to the temptation. That fact is what put him in jail. Misunderstood!!!!! -more hurt and rejection.
Did he lament his situation – we don’t know – we do know he was human. I’m sure he had questions for God. But what did he do with his misfortune. He used the gifts and talents that God gave him – gift of administration and caring – he was good at that and wasn’t afraid to use these gifts wherever he was, – and it didn’t go unnoticed. The guard entrusted Joseph with all the day to day of the prison regime. The day finally came when he was free from prison and he was placed in a very prominent position.
The rest as they say is history. We know how the story ended.
I don’t’ know how my story will play out – neither do you.
I take great encouragement in knowing that Joseph didn’t know how his story would end either.
I believe that we are called to do what is set before us. Some days for me that is babysitting my grandchildren and being the best grandma I can be. Other days it is reading reports and writing minutes or making bank deposits for a committee or board I am serving on.
God places us where we are to bloom and so I try to be the best neighbour I can be.
All the while I feel like I am in the waiting room. Waiting for the next major thing that God has for me to do.. and I know it wont’ be a major event in the world’s eyes but it will be for me.
The bottom line, the thing that I am learning, is that I must be faithful in the everyday for that is the adventure I am on. I must admit, somedays it is not a very exciting adventure, and I know I have to be proactive not just reactive. But I have to learn to listen more to the nudges I get in my mind and spirit and act on them. For the most part that is praying for whoever comes to mind that day, or dropping off baking to a neighbour, or making that phone call.
Not big things in this world’s eyes but big in God’s eyes. And all the while I wait………… Hoping I am faithful to what God is calling me to.
What are you waiting for? What unanswered prayer is ever present in your mind? Give it to God and actively begin your adventure.

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Church Health Dilemma

Having worked in the Health care system both in hospital and the community Judy is fully aware of the limitations that our present Healthcare offers. In the past, the church was in the forefront, leading the way in Healthcare, but this focus has taken a back seat for many decades. The Church also used to be the pivotal point of the community and social activities sprang forth from within. This in itself fostered community and people were aware of others’ needs.
With the demographics of churches changing and many small churches struggling to stay intact, ‘Care’ often takes a backseat. The church is to be a caring, loving community where all feel accepted and loved. Having a well-defined and relevant caring structure in place ensures that all are included from birth to old age. Medicine practises illness care. Churches practice healthcare.  Parish Nursing is actively becoming the new church.  Parish Nurses  deliver Health counsel, Resources, Renewal and most of all HOPE.

For more on what is the Parish Nurse role visit

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Who Can You Turn To?

I would like to invite you to imagine with me for a few minutes

Imagine yourself sitting in your home at the breakfast table, you have just spent the last 20 mins looking every where for the milk carton, only to have found it in the bottom rack of the dishwasher along with the peanut butter

Imagine, looking across the dinner table at the love of your life only you don’t realize this person is the love of your life and you think this is a complete stranger at your table and you are scared beyond scared

Now imagine even further

You are sitting in the doctors office, your doctor is moving his or her lips but you can’t make out what he or she is saying because all you can remember is that the doctor told you you have cancer of the bowel which has spread —– did he say to the lungs or the liver? You have to get up and leave but you aren’t sure you can put one foot in front of the other. You somehow manage to get home and you don’t know what to tell your family because you didn’t hear what the doctor said and now your not even sure that what you did hear was right.

Who can you turn to???

Is your church family equipped to walk along side those experiencing these all to common scenarios?  Do your parishioners know that their church family is there for them?  How does the church become more relevant to people in their communities?

Times are a changing.

The health care system is bursting at the seams, families are dispersed across the globe, immigrants are standing in line at the Canadian border.

Is your church equipped and intentional about caring for brothers and sisters in need?  Whatever that need may look like.

I challenge you to be the hands and feet of Jesus, through intentional care, and show the world who we can always turn to!

Contact me to find out how Healthmattersnow can assist you in revisioning for the future

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A Healthy Response to Sex Education Changes

The introduction of a revised Sex Education curriculum in Ontario has caused quite a variety of responses among families. The introduction of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression along with varying sexual acts are now included in classroom sex Ed classes. Grades 1-5 learn developmental stages and correct anatomy while grades 6-8 explore sexual orientation, consequences both physically and emotionally, boundary setting, personal preferences and decision -making guidelines. I admit, this does give rise to caution.

With this in mind the question also arises ‘ what does a parent do if this goes against their wishes and/or faith values?’

First of all, I think we can all agree that we are grateful to have a public school system that we as Canadian citizens can access to undertake the huge role of educating our children.

Secondly, as responsible parents, we have to understand that formal education is not the only form of learning that is important to our children. Parents need to constantly be involved in what their child is learning through communication and involvement and the understandIng that learning occurs at home as well.

Thirdly, we as parents are having to adjust and navigate the changes of sexuality in our society and so to our children need to learn how to do the same. If we hold Christian values as our guideline for morality, how do we help teach our children those same values. We cannot ignore the times that our children are growing up in. For example: the definition of a family unit has changed to include parents of the same gender. How do you explain that to your children? Have you had a conversation around the supper table about this important fact in our society?

Now the government wants to be more explicit in the teaching of sexual relationships. Parents should not be so gullible to think that their children are not seeing what is happening around them. ( two men walking down the street holding hands, a friend with two mommies, condoms in bathrooms, teenage pregnancy).
The big question is what age is the right age to learn sexually explicit material ?
The answer to that should lie in the arms of the parent.

That said, the fact is this: the teaching is going to happen in the school.
Parents have several options to explore:
As a Christian the first step is always to take it before the Lord in prayer. So down on your knees for wisdom!
Examine the curriculum and clarify in your mind and on paper what it is that you do not want your child to know and at what age. The education your child is getting also includes decision making skills, how and when to say no, STDs and consequences of early sexual activity, cultural and family values. Remember, reference is also being made to First Nation, Metis and Inuit cultural teachings (medicine wheel, four colour or seven grandfather teachings) examine these teachings as well

Let the teacher know your family values and make sure your child knows your family values.

Ask your child’s teacher for an exemption from the class that you have issue with.

Ask to sit in on the class so you know what is being discussed and you can have good follow up with your child.

Not everyone’s experience is going to be the same, so a decision to transfer to a private school or home school may also be an option.

Make your voice heard clearly, respectfully and with informed understanding of the issues at hand.  Children are a gift from God. Let us remember that God has given us this opportunity to raise these children to love Him, His teachings, ourselves and others. Let us equip them well!


national post article by Barbara Kay

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Senior Care and the Church

Welcome back! Forgive me for taking so long to blog again but as you all know, life happens! Christmas, flu, pneumonia and travel have all been a part of my absence on this site.

In my last blog I touched on the idea of the elderly being able to stay in their homes longer as their health begins to fail. I also mentioned that this has the potential to decrease loneliness. I would like to expand on this idea because I know it to not be always true.
The wait times for seniors wanting to move into assisted living is now between 2-5 years! Talk about having to plan ahead! In some cases it may even be longer. People who are already living in assisted living are themselves on a long wait list to enter Long Term Care (LTC) facilities.
Why is this you may ask? The answer is that there are just too few LTC beds!

In the ‘olden days’ aging parents were arranged a bedroom in their children’s homes and the family took care of them until they passed to eternity. This still happens today but it is the exception not the rule.
Looking after our parents in this day and age means trying to find them a place to have their health demands and needs be taken care of by professionals and personal aids.
Home care was a great advancement in health care but it too has become overburdened.

The fact is that people are having to stay in their homes longer as their health declines and this puts added stress on busy families.
Should the Church be concerned about this?

We talk about our “church family” as being important to us so how do we help in this major change in society.
I believe God has placed us in community to help us learn how to care for each other and taking time to explore this major health shift in our society is the first step to caring about it.
As I said before, seniors being able to stay in their own homes as long as possible is a healthy solution, but not if they are truly being left alone. Health concerns may have left them isolated and unable to continue socializing. Visits from church family members help to fill those lonely times that busy younger families are unable to fill and enforces that sense of belonging to a bigger family.

Churches need to be very intentional about CARE in order to ensure that they are being faithful to their members. There are many ideas and options that can be explored to assist the good work that churches are doing right now.
Let’s begin to brain storm together.

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Church Life in the postmodern era

Church life in the Postmodern Era

In the past five years I had watched as church after church have closed their doors forever. Regular attendance continues to dwindle and with that goes the resources to sustain the upkeep of these beautiful aging buildings. There are many aspects to consider when trying to find the reason for this decline, but I see two significant ones.
Among those who consider regular church attendance a high priority item, are seniors, who, in most cases, are experiencing a decline in health and finances. Their heart is wanting to be In Church but their situation may dictate otherwise.

Couple that with the baby boomers who are wanting to slow down from the hard work they have done over the years and the lack of commitment from the millennials and you have a recipe for collapse.
The question the church needs to tackle is ” How can we be relevant to all generations.”

This means taking the time to understand each generation. I know some of you are saying ‘wait a minute – we can’t be everything to every body’. I understand that but hear me out.
Let’s take the millennials for example. This group is early in their careers, many have young families and activities drive their schedules. They truly want to feel important and soak up positive feedback. How do you engage them in church life? If they are going to volunteer in the church they need to be invested in the cause. They need to know you care about them and that they are important and valued in the eyes of the church. They need to know that you, the church, need them.  Be willing to be flexible with their schedules and possibly recruit both spouses for one volunteer role.

I know this conversation is endless but I do believe it is a necessary one that churches need to have.
Human beings all have a need to be loved, heard and valued no matter what age or stage in life. God is always there for us and when we gather in His name we need to be there for each other.
That is relevancy!

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Health Matters – Where Church and Life Intersect

Health Matters: Where Church and Life Intersect

Churches are full of life! The life of the pastor, the staff, the volunteer, the family, the children and youth, the young adult and the senior. Where else do you find such diversity of community? After working in the church for over ten years as a Parish Nurse, it was quite obvious to see that the one common denominator that ALL have in common is Health. Good health, poor health, disabled health, mental health. For the majority of us, health plays a major role in forming our outlook on life. If we are healthy – life has no limits, if we are in poor health – limits are an ever present fact of life and another hurtle to jump. At some point we have all experienced poor health and it is that fact that brings common ground into our faith communities.

I would venture to say that communities that are healthy are those where acceptance, validation and true sacrificial caring are practiced. Where all are made to feel heard and loved no matter the status of their health. I have met with many seniors, one on one, to sit and just listen to their heartaches, their story, their concerns. I held their hand as they cried tears of sorrow and loss, I listened as they spoke of not feeling needed anymore, I lifted them in prayer and reiterated their concerns to God with them. Upon leaving, it never failed, I would see a smile radiate their face and a contentment wash over them that indeed they were valued – for I had listened!

Does it not equate then that to be healthy is to be at peace in body, mind and spirit no matter our physical or mental limitations? To help one another achieve this peace is one of the reasons God wants us to be in community.  We need each other!  Let’s find ways to be Healthy!

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Worth the Waiting

In December of 2008, I had the privilege of helping out in my son’s home while awaiting the arrival of my first grandchild.  As the days crept by past the due date, the term ‘waiting’ took on a very present reality.  I could see that the waiting for me was not nearly as hard as it was for my daughter-in-law.  For her, this event was very real, imminent and dear to her heart; not to mention the obvious lack of physical comfort her body was experiencing.  We all wanted to finally ‘see’ this baby!  So waiting became very hard.

But why do we have to wait?

Well, God knows that both mom and baby have to be ready for this event, the results of too early or too late are all too well known.  It made me ponder what I am waiting for in my life; do I hold anything this dearly as to make me so impatient?

I know that special occasions, such as Christmas, create excitement and anticipation, but I fear I must go deeper to the true memory of this event.  It raises the question of whether or not I hold Christ and all He means, dear to my heart.  If so, do I get impatient as I wait for his coming?  How do I spend my time in productive anticipation?  Have I forgotten that He is to return?  Am I ready for His return?

My daughter-in-law could just as well have sat and done nothing throughout her pregnancy, but she kept herself as busy as possible. Busy making preparations for baby’s arrival, walking, talking and rejoicing in anticipation.  Even though the waiting was hard she was as ready as could be.  And oh how the wait was worth it!  The tears of joy and the satisfaction of a wait worthwhile were written all over her face and the faces of all of us who waited with her.

My prayer is that we would all be ready for Christ’s coming.  That we would wait with productive and joyful anticipation.

Are you ready and waiting?


Luke 12:35-37 MSG

                “Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him.  It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes.  Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them.”

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