Group social support - it starts with a conversation | KeepAble
Initial conversations undertaken with clients need to explore how they previously socialised, what prevents them from returning to previous activities, how long has it been, and how do they envisage their social network to look in the future.

The realms of possibilities should be discussed and explored together, including the possibility to regain the ability to reconnect with their previous social networks if they so wish, no matter what role they play in that reconnection e.g.: they may no longer be able to play a game of golf or bowls, but their friends still gather at the club. Some clients would have had the message reinforced that they “need to move on” and change how and who they socialise with, as they have lost their ability to perform in the social setting. As a provider, you can reframe this message into:

“How can we recreate or reconnect you to the social network of your choice?”

Planning a calendar of activities is a well-adopted and intentioned practice within CHSP social group programs and often providers offer an opportunity for clients to contribute to the development of these calendars.

However, the development process should commence with individual conversations seeking insight into a person’s past social connections and interests, what has happened for them to seek support, and what aspirations they have for their future. The outcome of these conversations is what should influence the content of an activity program.

A program or calendar of activities, although, provide opportunities to socialise and experience different events, often do not explore or provide any opportunities to regain abilities to reconnect with past social networks, hence, those that are wanting to reconnect are required to ‘fit into’ one of the activities even though they have no desire to do so.

An activity calendar could incorporate pastimes that may assist a client to work towards reconnecting to their previous social network, this may encompass activities such as learning how to plan a bus or train journey online or build up strength and balance to navigate public spaces confidently. The options are as broad as the individual’s aspirations and will require a considerable culture shift if this approach is not currently incorporated within the organisation.

Writing a support plan with a client
A goal without a plan is just a wish

An activity program should be informed through individual support plans which are developed because of conversations you have had with the client. The plans require the steps needed to enable a client to work toward their social goal/s, this will guide both the client and staff and enhance the understanding of the roles each have in the client achieving their goal.  

Working with clients for a short period of time and assisting them to reconnect to their social networks requires regular consultation with the individual and review of their plan. This will ensure the strategies and steps identified are supporting the client in achieving their goal/s, if not they may need to be altered. Consequently, activity programs need to be flexible and changed regularly to meet the needs of the client, a set and forget approach does not meet these requirements.

This does not mean the organisation is required to provide all the necessary strategies and support to achieve the client’s social goals, but they need to approach the plan holistically even if not all or none of the strategies are being implemented within the social group.

Elderly lady with her carer
It starts with a conversation and getting to understand what is important to the individual

Providers of group social support should consider the following:

Example

Listen to Junes story about maintaining a social presence.

To read the dialogue for this story, click here.

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