Community Support Recommendations
This document provides recommendations for ways to provide love and support for individuals and families who are navigating a journey that involves illness, injury, or unexpected hardship.
One of the best pieces of advice that we can give you is to have two people on point for everyone to work with during this time. It can be overwhelming to have multiple people reaching out when the situation is new. Having two people who are “approved” by the individual(s) affected can make the process more manageable. We also recommend setting ground rules around who contacts the family and how the family wants (or doesn’t want) to be contacted.
Examples of actions to provide support:
- Tell the individual or family what you are planning to do and follow through. Often, in times of crisis, people might not know what they need, so if you can assist them in maintaining a regular schedule for their families and their children, they can turn their focus and attention on the individual(s) who needs care.
- Provide transportation to and from activities/appointments for their children or other family members. Identify what activities or appointments are involved and work with other families to ensure that those events are covered..
- Take care of any pets that the family has, walk the dog, feed the cat. Establish a routine, show up at 9:00 every morning to take the dog out for his daily walk and ensure that he is fed and cared for during this time.
- Establish a meal train if the family is going to be at home during treatment or after treatment is completed and they are trying to return to a regular routine
- Set up a schedule within your group of friends/caregivers to ensure that someone is at the house with the children
- Maintain/replicate special events for the children or other family members – holiday celebrations, birthdays, family traditions…
- Do weekly chores for them – grocery shopping – establish a list of necessities, wants and needs – deliver and put it away each week. Clean their house for them, clean out the fridge, help with laundry, mow their lawns, create a schedule and divide the list of chores amongst your community.
- Ask for financial assistance from the community by setting up a caring bridge or blog, and managing it for them. Request gift cards for gas, hotels & restaurants near the hospital if extended stays are required for treatment.
- Seek out a close family member or friend to assist them with their monthly expenses – paying the bills, requesting deferment for outstanding loans, contacting creditors if needed.
- If the children or other family members are involved in sports or clubs, see if there are dues that need to be paid. Be an angel donor and cover the expenses anonymously.
- Create care packages for hospital stays, ideas include: blankets, snacks, toiletries, books, puzzles, journal, thank you cards for the staff.
- Care packages for the family members who are not going through treatment are also wonderful. Focus on activities, sports and items that the individual enjoys and create special gifts for them (don’t forget any pets).
- Visit the family/individual at the treatment center, or if scheduled visits are required, arrange for or transport them to/from the facility.
- Check in, call, or text to say that you are thinking of them (if this is one of the approved means of communication on which you agreed). Continue to do so even after life is returning to a regular routine Set the expectation that a response is not required, and you are simply reaching out to remind them that you are thinking of them. People are often too exhausted to return calls or texts.
- Above all, one of the best things that you can do is to just be there and listen.