Redefining Health Care and the Role of Faith Communities
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 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 not more that the church can do? Faith Community Nursing is a very practical and spiritual ministry accessible to Faith communities if they are intentional about caring for their members. I am not suggesting we set out to replace the Health Care System, but how can we walk along side and do our part?
Recently I heard of four elderly woman who wanted to stay in their homes but just couldn’t for various reasons. They decided to all take up lodging in one of their homes and live together. Then, if one of them needed occasional help with something they could help each other. This is very ingenious! They embraced their need for change and were proactive in their future outcome. Yes it meant sacrificing some independence but that was bound to happen sooner or later.
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!