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Starting and Running A Caregiver Support Group

By Suzette Levy

(Page 5 of 6)

Suggestions for Meetings “Icebreakers”

  • Lets get acquainted today.

  • Tell us the most difficult thing you had to handle this week.

  • Remember, the best way to get a good idea is to get a lot of ideas in front of the group.

  • Coping with caregiver worries.

  • Conquering caregiver fears.

  • Health strategies for active caregivers.

  • Taking care of yourself.

  • Companionship, love and caregiving.

  • Coping with the Stress.

  • Understanding this disease

Keep it Going

The leaders and coordinator must take ownership of the process and remember to rotate some responsibilities. In the beginning, the group will focus on the disease information process, prescription comparison and common symptoms and afflictions. It will take time to move to a wide variety of common topics. Eventually, all of the clinical things get known and broader and more common problems get discussed. It is not unusual for a group to go for years and to have upwards of 100 members. They come and go as their needs and schedules require and as their personal caregiving circumstances dictate.

It’s also a good idea to keep a log of the meeting date, time and discussion topics of that meeting. It helps resolve issues, arguments and scheduling later on.

Informal Research

In time, the group may wish to look into assessing the effectiveness of the information and support it provides. When new caregivers first begin to attend the meetings, you can ask caregivers to fill out a reliable depression questionnaire; when done again in six and 12 months, you could then prove the positive outcomes of the support group. Periodically surveying all caregivers for suggestions, additions and deletions to the program provides an anonymous forum to allow for constructive change (or at least its discussion) within the group.


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