Promoting Health and Wellness in Australian Church Communities: The Parish Nurses' Lived Experience

Tamera Gosling, Avondale College


Parish nursing, has emerged in Australia over the last decade with an aim to provide holistic health care to people in church community settings through health education, counselling, referral, support and co-ordination of volunteers. Great value has been placed on the health promotional feature of the parish nurses’ role; however, to this time the experience of promoting health for the parish nurse has remained relatively unexplored. This research presents the results of a qualitative study to explore, identify and describe the lived experience of Australian parish nurses promoting health and wellness in Christian church communities. A phenomenological approach was used to analyse interview transcripts of nine parish nurses, resulting in the formation of seven themes describing their lived experience: realising the unique identity of parish nursing; valuing a holistic approach to health promotion; recognising the church setting as shaping health promotion; experiencing personal fulfilment; recognising challenges; and looking toward the future. An understanding of this experience enables reflection on the meanings of health promotion in this field and offers a base on which parish nurses may further explore best practice. The findings of this study can contribute to the body of knowledge used by parish nurses, educators and health promoters to further enhance developing models of practice within this emerging specialty.