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OA36 The buddy group
  1. Susan Gerry-Riley
  1. Weston Hospicecare, UK

Abstract

Background In September 2008 a training course called Sharing the Journey was offered at Weston Hospicecare. During the six week course, a number of participants were bereaved. Because of the strong relationships developed between them they wanted to continue meeting after the six weeks. This highlighted that friendships can develop between strangers who are in a similar caring role but also sharing the experiences helps bereaved get back into the social networks. Having been in a long relationship or a caring role for several years some people struggle going out alone.

Aim The aim of The Buddy Group is to support bereaved “carer givers” to share their experience and get back into the social network.

Method The Buddy Group meet on a monthly basis within the Hospice environment, and plan their social events together and see it as a safe environment to express their emotions.

As the groups have moved forward, two carers have assumed the role of facilitating the more recent groups and arranging the events. The Hospice is utilised for a venue and for support for the carers facilitating the group.

Results The Buddy Group was an off shoot from the Sharing the Journey course and meet monthly for arranging social activities and supporting their bereavement journey. To date 120 people since September 2008 have benefitted from the Buddy Group and we are now on Buddy Group 5. Buddy Group 1 and 2 don’t attend the Hospice but meet outside of the Hospice venue for social networking. Currently, the Hospice are operating three groups at the same time and are receiving facilitated assistance from two carers that had attended both Sharing the Journey and The Buddy Groups. They see themselves as the concept of “caring for the carers”.

Conclusion The development of a Buddy Group may need facilitated support from a Hospice professional staff member initially, but after some time can become sustained by group members who have experienced the carers role. The bereavement journey is supported by fellow group members which results in members getting back into the social networks, preventing isolation and loneliness. The feedback from group members is extremely positive.

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