By Mimi Buderus
My company, Right at Home of Tampa Bay,provides non-medical, in-home care and assistance for seniors and other clients including support for rehabilitation, post-hospitalization, post-surgery, plastic surgery recovery and sudden, chronic and acute illnesses. Running a demanding business, while maintaining a connection to the needs of the community and prospective clients, is always a challenge. The best way I have found to serve my community, learn what my target market needs and demonstrate my knowledge as an eldercare expert is to facilitate support groups in my community. Doing so feeds my soul, my mind and my business. For example, I was honored as a finalist for the Tampa Bay Business Journal’s Health Care Hero Awards in 2009. My efforts were recognized and I now have this valuable credential next to my name.
I began my involvement in support groups in late 2007. For over 4 years I have been a facilitator for an Alzheimer’s Support Group we call Caregiver Sanctuary. This faith-based support group is open to anyone caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or any other form of dementia and is free. We meet monthly and provide informative presenters and fellowship.
More recently I started a new support group that reaches a broader audience called the Caregiver of Someone Aging (COSA) Support Group. Those who can benefit from this group include people who: aren’t sure what resources are available to help them and their loved one; feel isolated and confused about how to cope with the situations they are facing; are irritated with a loved one yet know that what’s happening isn’t their fault; and who want to be prepared for the future. COSA meetings are free and open to members of the community and meet once a month in the evening for dinner presentations.
Top 5 Tips for Successful Support Groups
If you are considering facilitating a support group as a means to do well while doing good, here are some hard-earned tips I share with you:
- Your approach should be self-less; you may not get any direct “business” from your efforts but the good you do for the people attending the groups will be rewarded in some form down the road!
- Remember that you are a facilitator, not the “chief problem solver”. The best support comes from peers within the group.
- Facilitating a group is a huge time commitment! Be prepared to commit not just time but also a great deal of energy and attention.
- Focus on what the group needs, not what you want to provide. Example: you may want to have a speaker every month, but the group may want more time for the “support”. Give them what they want.
- Know that you are providing a great service to the community and feel proud of that!
To learn more about my support groups in Tampa Bay or to inquire about starting your own in your community, contact me at 813-514-4724.