Revd. Dr Helen Wordsworth - Founder Director of Parish Nursing Ministries UK
Meet Revd. Dr Helen Wordsworth, local Christian, registered nurse, ordained Baptist minister and Founder Director of Parish Nursing Ministries UK.
Helen and husband Robert moved to Peterborough three years ago where she has been continuing her work of developing a new initiative called Parish Nursing here in the UK.
The parish nurse role of today was initially developed by Revd Dr Granger E Westberg in 1985 in the USA. He recognised the role that nurses, with their knowledge of both medical science and of the humanities, played in effecting a professional relationship between the medical establishment and the individual within the context of their community. He established the Parish Nurse role, which now operates in approximately 10,000 in 23 countries altogether around the world.
In December 2001, Rev’d Helen Wordsworth, a Baptist minister with a background in nursing and health visiting, submitted a dissertation toward an M.Th. to the University of Wales, developing the Parish Nursing concept for application in the UK.
Through subsequent conferences and consultations, a steering group eventually gave birth to eight pilot projects in a number of Christian denominations in January 2004, supported by an education programme. The principles for practice in Parish Nursing were developed and standards of accountability and clinical governance were established.
The organisation that Helen founded, Parish Nursing Ministries UK, began in 2005 with the new charity and not-for-profit company being formed in 2006. Parish Nursing Ministries UK has a Council of Reference, a board of Trustees, and ten regional co-ordinators who work with the CEO to promote develop and co-ordinate Parish Nursing in different parts of the UK.
It offers the introductory training for registered nurses and health professionals, provides resources for practice, professional networking, and regional coordination. It promotes the concept, encourages research and has a vision for everyone in the UK to be able to access a parish nurse if they so wish.
In October 2013, Helen took a massive step of faith by standing down from her Regional Minister post with the Central Baptist Association to become CEO of Parish Nursing Ministries UK - following the calling that God had placed on her heart.
This was an unpaid and short-term position but as Helen says "a very necessary one in order to see Parish nursing grow and develop across the country. I hope that by doing this, I will be able to help the organisation to raise enough funding to appoint a paid CEO beyond my post"
The organisation has continued to grow and now there are over 80 churches with parish nurses, in most denominations, across England, Scotland and Wales.
Helen has continued to research the benefits of Parish Nursing focusing on the effect that the appointment of a Parish nurse has on the mission of local church. Her book “Rediscovering a ministry of Health: Parish Nursing as a Mission of the Local Church”; Wipf and Stock, 2015, has just been published and is available on line and in all good bookshops.
Helen has recently been awarded the title of Queen’s nurse for her leadership in this field.
Helen's step of faith in 2013 has now paid off as she hands over the task of Chief Executive Officer this October to the newly appointed CEO elect, Ros Moore. Ros, a member of her local Methodist church, has vast experience in the NHS, her last post having been Chief Nurse for Scotland.
The Trustees of the charity have asked Helen to stay on and work with Ros in the role of Founder Director. This will give Helen more time to share the vision with church leadership, to develop the work across Europe and to be with her very precious grandchildren!
Helen says: “I couldn’t have done any of this without the amazing support of my husband, Rob, all those involved with me in this venture, and God’s guidance, strength and provision. My aim is simply that more people will experience the life in all its fullness that Jesus came to bring."