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Starting and Running A Caregiver Support Group

By Suzette Levy

(Page 3 of 6)

Depending on the time of day you have chosen to meet, you may want to consider if your group will be together during a mealtime. For example, a mid-day gathering allows the possibility of a brown bag lunch. Another possibility could be to have each member contribute to a hospitality committee if your group wants refreshments.

What If Your Loved One Cannot be Left Alone?

Depending on the disease, there are many different options to think about. If the patient needs day care, some facilities may allow your loved one to attend their facility one-day per month or week; the same as with a respite program. Having a friend, neighbor or relative stay with your loved one so the caregiver can attend is another possibility. REMEMBER this is for the caregiver and you must have some time alone.

What Makes a Good Group Leader?

Many times, the co-coordinator is also the group leader. However, as a group grows, others may help facilitate and lead, while the coordinator takes care of all the logistics. The leader must be active and maintain an interest in the group. The leader needs to stay current regarding new information and advances in the areas of interest to the group. The leader must be dynamic and motivated.  Active listening while guiding the group is important to the success of the group. It is also important to end the group meeting on a positive note. Periodic evaluation of the program will ensure its viability.

  • Leader must be dedicated to the cause of helping and caring.

  • Assess the needs of the individuals and the group as a whole.

  • Plan programs.

  • Recruit members.

  • Set up meetings.

  • Distribute information.

  • Finding other speakers such as a physician or other professional is always a good idea.

  • Publicize the support group.

How Do You Get the Word Out?

Getting the word out is mostly about networking. Your church or synagogue may print an announcement in their newsletter.  Distributing flyers around the area and placing announcements in the community calendars of local newspapers or Web sites can be helpful. Remember to put in a phone number, email address or Web site and when you can be reached.


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