Support and care for caregivers

Everyone in this role needs to develop a set of tools to keep their strength and resilience up and also to find meaning and value in the caring work they do.

Over the past 15 years, I have been part of many programmes through which I have provided supervision, support, mentoring and care to those working as carers and caregivers in the healthcare system in South Africa. I met many wonderful people from all walks of life doing this work and have been privileged to hear many wonderful, inspiring stories - stories of hope, courage, trust, endurance, survival, perseverance and thriving in the midst of extremely harsh and painful life circumstances. I have been humbled and also healed through doing this work. It holds much meaning and value for me personally and professionally and it is my express wish to carry on with this work wherever I find myself. Clients have included social workers, nurses, doctors, home-based carers, counsellors, lay counsellors, psychologists, community health forum members, auxiliary social workers, health administrators. health centre (clinic) managers, general workers (e.g. cleaners) therapists and healers. What I learnt through this work over the years is that whatever role people play in the healthcare system, they all have one common experience: the experience of offering care and support to others who are in need, no matter whether they serve tea or perform life-changing surgery. And through being part of a system that exists to help others in such a special and profound way, they, too need to be cared for and support in a special and profound way if they are to protect themselves from things like burnout, depression and compassion fatigue, all of which have many faces. Carers and caregivers or care providers are not only found in hospitals, clinics and hospices, but are also found in families and family homes where someone is in need of care and support - where someone is suffering. There, too, you find the same experiences as you would in a formal healthcare environment: carers providing care to others who are in need. These carers who live amongst us in our families and communities also need to be cared for and support in order to prevent burnout.

Everyone in this role needs to develop a set of tools to keep their strength and resilience up and also to find meaning and value in the caring work they do. I provide this kind of support and care to carers and healthcare workers and anyone else in need of this type of support. I offer this kind of support through the following ways to groups and to individuals:

Supervision and Mentoring - This is provided to psychologists, social workers, occupational therapists, counsellors, lay counsellors, therapists and healers working with clients who have mental health related problems. The support may be holistic and multifaceted including conversation-oriented work, body work and soul/energy work as needed. I am not bound by any particular theory of psychology or psychotherapy, but draw from a few schools of thought and predominantly approaches that focus on the experience-and-relationship-in-the-room. This support is offered to individuals or to groups and may be once-off or ongoing.

Workshops - I design workshops for groups of carers (including healthcare managers and administration staff) who either work in the same organisation or are from different organisations and healthcare settings, as well as groups of carers working independently or who find themselves in non-paid caring positions in their families communities. I assess the needs of the group or organisation and develop the workshop around those needs. Workshops are experiential and geared towards providing participants with tools they may use to support and sustain themselves in their caring work with others. Workshops range from a few hours to a few days in duration, depending on the needs of the group.