The purpose of a Support Group is to bring individuals together to meet others with similar challenges, discuss feelings, gather information, and socialize.
Here are some ideas on how you can start your own active and thriving support group:
Planning The First Meeting
- Locate meeting place, determine date and time. Most libraries, churches, and hospitals have meeting rooms that are often free to non-profit groups.
- Book guest speaker (specialist from one of the MDS Centers of Excellence). They will speak for free if you ask them. The MDS Alliance is happy to help you in any way.
- Place posters or make up flyers to post in doctor’s offices, pharmacies, on hospital bulletin boards, libraries, church halls, grocery stores, etc.
- Advertise the meeting in local newspapers, most newspapers have a health section with a datebook, calendar or an area for support groups. It’s a free service the paper offers.
- Get local newspapers to write stories on myelodysplastic syndromes and health newspapers.
- Local hospitals have a health calendar, call hospitals and get on their list of support groups.
- Post information about your support group on The MDS Alliance website.
- The MDS Alliance, via some board members, may mail invitations to all known MDS patients and their families. Note that these lists are confidential.
- Contact The MDS Alliance for patient information handouts.
- Plan refreshments
The Support Group Facilitator
The Facilitator of Support Group meetings is responsible for the monthly operation of the meetings. The support group facilitator is there to guide the group, stimulate discussion, manage the group dynamics, and encourage interaction.
- Arranges meeting place.
- Identifies topics for meetings.
- Coordinates speakers as required.
- Introduces and thanks speakers at meetings.
- Provides for refreshments.
- Ensures security of location.
- Provides information to the MDS Alliance for newsworthy items, as required.
Suggestion for time required:
- One meeting per month (approx. two hours/month)
- Speaker coordination (approx. two hours/month)