1. What is FaithHealth and how does it work?
FaithHealth (FH) is a movement that improves health by combining the caring strengths of faith communities and the clinical expertise of health care providers. Volunteers from the faith community help their fellow congregation members and their neighbors in the community before, during and after illness strikes.
Participating congregations provide volunteer caregivers led by one or more Congregational Care Coordinators (CCCs) to facilitate care for members and their neighbors in the community particularly during times of illness. They work with health care providers, Health Care Liaisons, and other community groups to ensure that people receive the care they need according to these four principles:
- Right door (primary care physicians, clinics, outpatient centers, the Hospital, etc.),
- Right time (usually sooner rather than later),
- Ready to be treated (with medications, necessary information, etc., in hand)
- Not alone (accompanied by a family member, friend or caregiver)
2. Why are you doing this?
We are entering a new era of health care and a new way of caring for people in need. Changes in health care–related laws mean providers must also focus outside hospitals and practices extending care into the local community. We are at a moment in history when “the right thing to do” is also the “economically smart thing to do” for institutions. Partnering with caring groups and individuals in the community to care for people in need improves health, connects people to faith-based resources they need, and frees health care providers to use financial resources for “proactive mercy” (promoting and maintaining health) rather than just “reactive charity” (bearing the cost of care for those who can’t afford it).
3. How will my congregation/organization benefit?
Joining FaithHealth means your congregation will have free access to . . .
- Community–based asset mapping identifying a local community’s resources, needs and gaps
- Receiving community-specific training and support for volunteer caregivers
- Access to Health Care Liaisons to help connect with needed resources
- Assistance for congregations in helping to create a “community of health.”
- A new level of energy, focus, and cohesion in the congregation as they focus on caring for each other and their neighbors.
In addition, congregations typically experience . . .
- New and invigorating missional connections with people in their communities.
- New levels of cooperation with other participating congregations and clergy.
- New leadership development as members take on health care roles within the congregation.
4. Is FaithHealth for all faiths?
These health-focused partnerships are open to all faith communities and other community organizations.
5. Would volunteers face increased liability for helping their fellow congregation members or neighbors?
Congregational Care Coordinators (CCC’s) and Care -Givers should not have fear or apprehension when providing help to the needs of their fellow faith members and neighbors. We have reviewed the concerns about liability and take this issue very seriously. It is our understanding that volunteering with FaithHealth does not ordinarily create increased liability for our volunteers. There are both federal and state laws that have been specifically enacted to provide protections for those who volunteer for non-profit and governmental organizations. These laws were passed in order to encourage citizen involvement. Volunteers, who exercise ordinary reasonable care as is expected in normal, everyday life anyway, are usually covered under those laws. (Please note that volunteer drivers must always be properly licensed when using a motor vehicle for transporting others.)
There are some differences for professionally licensed volunteers such as nurses or other licensed healthcare providers. They are always expected to perform up to the standards of their professions. Even if a professionally licensed volunteer doesn’t intend to act as “as a nurse,” it is possible that his or her actions could stray into a nurse’s scope of practice. We would encourage all of our professional volunteers to enroll in a professional liability insurance policy if they are not already covered.
We urge anyone interested in volunteering with FaithHealth to have a discussion with an insurance professional or legal counselor so that they can receive the information they need in order to make informed decisions regarding their personal risks for volunteering.
(Please note that the discussion above is not intended to serve as legal opinion offered by FaithHealth or WFBMC.)
6. How can my congregation/organization become involved?
Congregations or community organizations enter into a covenant partnership with other FaithHealth members. This partnership agreement defines the shared responsibilities of clergy, congregations, community organizations and participating health care providers. Congregations are encouraged to invite their members and neighbors to join FaithHealth as well.
7. What costs are involved? Is it really free?
Yes, the ministries of FaithHealth are provided free of charge to care recipients (community members), congregations, clergy, and other FHNC member groups, as outlined in item number three (3) above.