Meet a Support Group: Metrowest Caregivers Support Group, Millis, Mass.

Denise

Meet a Support Group: Metrowest Caregivers Support Group, Millis, Mass.

Denise
(This post is part of an ongoing a series, Meet a Support Group. Today, Shirley (@shirleyriga), shows us her support group.)

Caregiving.com: What's the name of your support group?
Shirley: Metrowest Caregivers Support Group in Millis, Mass.

Caregiving.com: Tell us about your group -- how it started, how long it's been going, who hosts or sponsors your group, where you meet and how often you meet.
Shirley: I believe caregivers need as much support as possible. I was a caregiver for 32 years so I know. This is the third group I've started over the years. Metrowest Caregivers Support started April 2016. I hold it at our local library in a private room on the last Wednesday evening of every month starting at 6pm to 7:30 p.m. I provide the snacks and hold the space.

Caregiving.com: Tell us about the members of your group.
Shirley: We are a small group in a local community. I have one member so far that comes on a monthly basis. I've been listing the group in local papers and speaking to people who seem interested and I hope to have one or two more. I have a mom who comes regularly who cares for a 26 year old daughter with severe epilepsy and developmental delays. Her daughter functions at a five year old level. This mom also works part-time. Other possible members include a daughter who cares for her Alzheimer's diagnosed dad.

Caregiving.com: Tell us about your group's purpose. How do you hope to help each other?
Shirley: My purpose in starting this group is to hold a space once a month that is safe for venting, sharing and networking.

Caregiving.com: Tell us about some of your favorite moments or meetings or speakers or topics.
Shirley: This group is new so I don't have too many favorite moments yet. The mom that comes is so appreciative for the time set aside for her.

Caregiving.com: Tell us about the upcoming meetings you have planned.
Shirley: I will continue to hold the space until more members come.

Caregiving.com: What suggestions would you offer to others considering starting a similar group?
Shirley: Facilitating a support group can be tricky if the facilitator is also in need of support. I learned the hard way when I started a group years ago with other parents of chronically-ill children. We had no facilitator and we did run into a problem. I was struggling with an issue and I had a participating father berate me for my choices. The group pretty much fell apart. It was an awful experience and taught me how important it is to have a facilitator who is experienced with managing a group and getting professional support when needed. Probably twenty years later I started another group with the help of a local social worker in a nearby hospital. I met with her for "supervision" to help me manage the members. It was much more successful.

Caregiving.com: Please feel free to include any additional information about your group you'd like us to know.
Shirley: The meetup for my group is https://www.meetup.com/Metrowest-Caregiver-Meetup/

(We want to see your support group! Your support group could be the Monday morning you connect with friends over coffee at Panera -- and they support you. Your support group could be your golf foursome, the group that understands your day so they focus on making your golf outing as relaxing as possible. Your support group could be that group organized by a larger organization that you attend once a month. Your support group could consist of two members or 20 -- it’s not about the numbers but about the giving and receiving of support. Whatever your support group looks like, show it to us.)

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