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P136 Journey for Men - A support Group
  1. Kevin Benson and
  2. Dorothy Gillespie
  1. Donna Louise Children’s Hospice, Stoke on Trent, UK

Abstract

The Journey for Men group was started to provide a safe place for men to explore their feelings.

The group consists of men who have either lost a child or are facing the loss of their child.

Aims

  • To provide a safe environment for men to openly discuss their feelings about their experiences of having a child with shortened life expectancy or losing a child.

  • To encourage open discussion on life issues, family dynamics, coping strategies

  • To encourage male friendships, social networking and an opportunity to feel a part of an informal support group.

Approach Used A person centred counsellor facilitates the group providing monthly sessions in the evening at an agreed time.

Sessions are no more than two hours, unless a planned activity occurs. The sessions have no fixed agenda. Chip butties are provided as the men often arrive after work.

Attendance is open ended which encourages growth but also allows men to move on.

Once a quarter an activity is provided away from the hospice to encourage relationship building and social networking.

To date the men have discussed very challenging issues such as:

  • Support, caring and friendship among men.

  • Facing and working on restrictive and destructive aspects of the male gender role

  • Opportunity to discuss supportive roles usually filled by women in the home and in professional settings.

  • Attention to unfinished business with our fathers and contemplation of the ways we have related to significant men in our lives.

Outcomes The group is 2 years old and over 30 men have accessed this service and have reported the following changes as a result of attending the group:

  • Increased coping mechanisms

  • Increased ability to talk about their feelings with their partner

  • Greater ease in discussing difficult issues

  • Greater ease in exposing vulnerability.

Application to Hospice Practice This is a tried and tested model in engaging a hard to reach group, lessons learnt from this experience are transferable to other hospices.

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