Faith Community Health: Integrating Faith and Health for Improved Quality of Life

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Community Commons

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Donna Stauber, Ph. D., Baylor Scott & White Health| Mary moved away from her family, out of state, looking for a fresh start. She had a new job and was excited about her future. However, a few weeks into her new job, she became extremely ill and went to the ER for treatment. After numerous tests, she was diagnosed with Stage IV ovarian and breast cancer that was widely-metastasized.

When Dianne attended Faith Community Caregiver Training offered by Texas health care system, Baylor Scott & White, she shared with the group that her husband had died of cancer a few years earlier. Dianne watched as he endured the pain of chemotherapy and radiation, and then held his hand as he slipped away after a long battle. However, instead of letting the pain make her bitter, Dianne became passionate about helping others and became a Faith Community Caregiver volunteer. Soon after, she was paired with Mary. Dianne assisted Mary with transportation and food needs. She visited one hour per week to offer a ministry of presence, assuring that she was not alone in her journey, and providing Mary with a shared love and compassion over her final days.

Baylor Scott & White Health’s Faith Community Health program has been documented to better identify, analyze the needs, manage, and serve chronically ill and vulnerable populations. By utilizing a collaboration of healthcare expertise, community resources, and ministry of presence, Faith Community Health provides a way for communities to truly care for and improve the health of their members. We know that people of faith are trusted and working within their own communities for the good of all. Through their impact, we can reinforce the underlying need to help people manage the complexity of healthcare and live a healthier lifestyle to improve quality of life.

What is Faith Community Health?

Faith Community Health is a rapidly growing area of healthcare that seeks to provide preventative education and compassionate care, as well as connection with needed healthcare resources to the vulnerable population in the communities.

Faith Community Health works on two fronts. First, it identifies high risk and vulnerable community members and partners them with compassionate volunteer caregivers from local faith communities.These volunteers are called Faith Community Caregivers (FCC). FCC’s attend a 3.5-hour training and learn skills to support and offer a ministry of presence, alleviate loneliness, assess needs, and assist individuals receive access to the resources that will improve health outcomes.

Through the referrals of healthcare professionals and faith communities, a collaborative effort is formed to find and connect those who could benefit from extra support to improve health outcomes, lower readmission rates, and reduce unnecessary emergency room visits

The Faith Community Health Program extends assistance based on four principals:

  1. Right Door: educating people on correct avenues to seek health care
  2. Right Time: educating and equipping individuals with prevention information to help them recognize and act on early symptoms
  3. Ready to Be Treated: helping people understand what they need and their medical options
  4. Reassured: treating people with compassion and competent care that eases fear and helps them know they are not alone

The Faith Community Health program also works with congregations to empower them towards holistic health and wellness by assisting in forming health ministries. The Health Ministry Teams work within the faith community to create opportunities for preventative education and disease management, as well as empowering members towards healthier lifestyles in terms of nutrition, exercise, stress management, and mental and spiritual health interventions.

The Faith Community Health Program has already shown promising results. The first 50 patients through the program have seen results of 30.0% decrease in admissions, 50.0% decrease in length of stay, and 80.4% decrease in emergency department visits.

If you are interested in learning more, becoming a congregational partner, or finding out if Faith Community Health exists in your area click here.


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