Parish nurse a 'safety net'

Sarah Dunlop (The Catholic Leader)

For five years, vulnerable parishioners in a Brisbane parish have had access to a parish nurse to help with their health and wellbeing, The Catholic Leader reports.

A former fashion designer who changed careers to become a nurse more than 15 years ago, Sarah Dunlop is the “safety net” ensuring Jubilee parishioners don’t disappear from their radar, especially when it comes to their health.

“I visit people all the time,” Mrs Dunlop said.

“I’ll sit and cry with people, have cups of tea with people.

“One individual could take up a whole lot of the time if you know for example, they’ve got cancer and they’re going to therapy and then there’s all the various allied health services that they need to get to, specialist appointments, or if it’s someone trying to find residential care or its taking them around to the places to show them.

“You do become an integral part of facilitating their care and creating a healthy life, a safe and healthy support system.”

Mrs Dunlop also makes calls to medical specialists, doctors, lawyers and other professionals to get the right level of care for her patients, who also happen to be fellow parishioners.

The job as parish nurse opened up five years ago as a response to a growing concern in the parish.

Parish priest Fr Peter Brannelly became aware of his “inadequacy” in giving correct health advice.

He also noticed some older parishioners and their families were unaware of the services that were available to them.

“What I was discovering here at Jubilee was that the whole medical world is very intimidating and if you’ve got to go through it by yourself, it can be quite terrifying,” Fr Brannelly said. His solution was to create a new job for a parish nurse.

While Mrs Dunlop’s job is to help parishioners in the Jubilee parish, she insists the role needs to spread into other parishes across the country and the world.

“I think it’s an important part of the Church to have a role like this in every parish,” Mrs Dunlop said.


Dedicated parish nurse Sarah Dunlop a ‘safety net’ for vulnerable Catholics (The Catholic Leader)

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