September 21, 2015
Many people write to us with questions about how to deal with the day-to-day challenges that aphasia poses on both patients and caregivers. The aphasia community clearly needs more support groups to help people connect with others, discuss their problems, answer their questions, share experiences, and just feel less alone in facing the difficulties of living with aphasia.
We have also received some very helpful tips from our community. Eileen Hunsaker, an Assistant Professor and Aphasia Center Coordinator at MGH Institute of Health Professions, has some advice below on how to start a support group in your community and make it successful.
If you would like to share your own tips on support groups, write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will do our best to include them in future posts.
Starting a support community:
1. For client referrals, contact professionals within your area.
2. Network with your speech-language pathologist (SLP), occupational therapist (OT), physical therapist (PT), and your friends and colleagues.
3. Coordinate with other Stroke/Aphasia centers and support groups that might be in the area. Work with them cooperatively, not competitively.
[NAA note: try using our online database to find aphasia centers and support groups around you. If you find one near your area but maybe in a different city, contact them to ask for referrals to aphasia centers that are even closer to you]
4. Start with a few committed clients.
5. Enlist the help of enthusiastic caregivers and family members. Have them help with “word of mouth” advertising.
6. Plan and provide social functions for clients and caregivers.
7. Allow the community time to grow. It takes time!
This helpful information was kindly provided by:
Eileen Hunsaker, MS CCC SLP, CBIS
Assistant Professor; Aphasia Center Coordinator
MGH Institute of Health Professions
School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences
Department of Communication Disorders
36 1st Ave, Charlestown Navy Yard
Boston, MA 02129