Is there a historical connection between faith communities and health?

Yes. Over the past decades, medical researchers have reported a statistically significant association between health and religion.

People who pray, meditate and go to church are not only more resistant to disease, but live longer and recover from operations more quickly.

Even though it may not be intentional, there are healthy effects provided from being a religious person.

The root word of healing and healer is ‘hael,’ which means to facilitate movement towards wholeness or to make whole on all levels—physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual.

Healing might be defined as being in right relationship with self, a higher power and others. A Christian assumption is that all healing comes from God and that healing is always possible, while cure, which implies the elimination of disease and its symptoms, is not always possible.

The Canadian health care system is complicated, making it difficult to know about all the services that are available. When we are ill, it can be difficult to advocate for ourselves. Family may not know how to help.

A Parish Nurse can help people navigate the health care system, while advocating for and supporting them in a wholistic way, including the spiritual and religious aspects of their lives that contribute to health and healing.

Together, we are creating a future where community care and our traditional health care system work in harmony to ensure that every member of our respective human family receives quality care, defined as ‘effective, safe, coordinated and patient-centered.’

What is a Parish Nurse?

A parish nurse is a registered nurse with specialized knowledge, who is called to ministry and affirmed by a faith community to promote health, healing and wholeness. In order to practice safely and effectively in health ministry, the parish nurse should be able to demonstrate competence in a defined set of attitudes, knowledge and skills. These are identified as Parish Nursing Core Competencies.

The parish nurse strives to form relationships with individuals and groups, to share, teach and promote understanding about the wholeness of body, mind and spirit.

Parish Nurses work with people of all ages and stages of life to:

  • Provide support to families for prenatal and postnatal care.
  • Develop and share health education for children.
  • Advocate for and develop relationships with youth.
  • Educate and support families.
  • Promote health and disease prevention.
  • Assist during life’s transitions.
  • Provide support for Seniors.
  • Offer support for palliative and bereavement care.

Who is InterChurch Health Ministries (ICHM) Canada?

The concept of ICHM Canada was launched in Durham Region in 1994,. ICHM Canada is a registered Canadian charity consisting of congregations, community groups, and individuals working together to promote an understanding of the relationship between faith and health. The initial pilot project of five congregations (1995-96) grew to over 60 partnerships in Ontario, representing 16 different denominations. ICHM Canada is also affiliated with ICHM Saskatchewan.

ICHM Canada promotes and supports parish nursing ministries in partnership with faith communities. We share educational opportunities offered by the Canadian Association for Parish Nursing Ministry (CAPNM) and Westberg Institute/Spiritual Care Institute for Parish Nurses. A governing Board of volunteers oversees the ministry. ICHM Canada is funded by a combination of partnership fees, individual gifts and fundraising events.

Why Partnership vs Membership?

The ICHM Canada model is built on the concept of mutual ministry through partnership. Together we are stronger than we are individually and can mutually benefit from each others’ strengths.

  • Partnership with ICHM Canada ensures that your parish nurse, health committee and clergy do not work in isolation as they develop a ministry of health and healing in your faith community.
  • ICHM Canada’s inter-church partnerships are spiritually based, inclusive and include multi-denominational faith communities.
  • Through partnership fees, congregations and agencies participate and share in the innovative ministry of ICHM Canada as it supports, promotes and provides resources for health and healing ministries.
  • ICHM Canada has been developing resources for our partners’ use since 1995, and providing opportunities for networking, discussion and sharing of materials about creating or growing a healing ministry.