26 February 2015
I’ve been gathering information for a health grant that is starting in July of this year and ran across the four areas of social support. As I have learned more about these four areas, I see how important they are in supporting people on a journey with cancer or a chronic/long term condition.
As I near my 11 year survival anniversary, it seems I am more and more in the role of supporting others with cancer or a long term condition. Even though I am a survivor I struggle with knowing the best way to offer help. I believe the four areas of social support below are all necessary types of support for people along their journey with cancer or chronic/long term condition. I am thrilled to see the connections to the tools we offer on www.thinkaboutyourlife.org. I’ve described each type of support and included the tools that will help achieve this support. It helps me know where to start!
Emotional Support: This type of support often involves physical comfort such as hugs or pats on the back, as well as listening. With emotional support, a friend or spouse might give a big hug and listen to hopes and fears about cancer or the impact of the health concern. Those that have had the same experience can empathize; letting you know that they’ve felt the same way, too. The simple act of being listened to lets you know others care. This offers comfort and the opportunity to process thoughts and feelings to hopefully get your bearings as you move forward on your journey.
Esteem Support: This type of social support is shown in expressions of confidence or encouragement. Someone offering esteem support might point out the strengths you’re forgetting you have, or just let you know that they believe in you. This often leads to you believing in yourself more. This can be helpful when you are making decisions. By having more confidence you feel more positive control in your decisions and in coping with treatments which has been shown to lead to more positive outcomes.
Gifts and Capacities and sharing what you like and admire about the person that has been diagnosed with cancer or long term health condition (part of the One Page Profile). You could send a card that captures the person’s gifts and talents. This could help build them up to deal with their illness and remind them of their strengths!
Informational Support: Those offering informational support do so in the form of advice-giving, or in gathering and sharing information. It is interesting to note that only one form of social support provides information or advice. You may be overwhelmed with the amount of information and advice given to you (without asking) when you are diagnosed with cancer or a long term condition. This is the kind of support most frequently received from our doctors. You may enlist others to help you out as well – especially others with the same diagnosis as you.
What is Working and Not Working and the Decision Making Agreement can structure conversations to be empowering for the person and give you specific information about what advice or information is needed.
Tangible Support: Tangible support includes taking on responsibilities for someone else so they can deal with managing their illness. This type of support is about taking action to help; for example by bringing dinner, helping to brainstorm solutions and help with issues that arise on the journey with cancer or long term condition.
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