It’s a New Year, and the occasion gives me the opportunity to reflect on what’s happened (and not happened) since I’ve been here at the Support Team Network. I came to UAB Hospital almost two years ago and took on the mantel of “Support Team Network Manager.” I remember the excitement I felt. Support Teams had been an effort begun in 1994 at The 1917 Clinic. It had been extremely effective in that outpatient context, and now I had been called to be a part of the effort to integrate the Support Team method into the UAB Hospital inpatient context. I knew I’d embarked on a journey through uncharted territory laced with unforeseeable obstacles and pitfalls. Indeed, the path has twisted significantly over these last 23 months and yielded a number of valuable lessons. Over the next few weeks, I’m sharing some of the things I’ve learned.
Here’s the top lesson I’ve learned: When a Support Team forms, it makes a huge difference in the lives of all involved. For an example, read the blog entry from November 17, 2015. That’s both the first AND last point I’ll make in this series: whatever the difficulties you might face in launching a support team for someone, when a team forms, it’s TOTALLY WORTH IT!
Nevertheless, ten lessons stand out and beginning with the next post, I’ll develop them in a more detail.
- Everyone already has an idea of what I’m talking about, and in most cases, it isn’t what I’m talking about.
- When I make it clear what I’m talking about, most everyone thinks it’s a great idea.
- People resist what they perceive as someone trespassing on their family space. People don’t like to think that someone’s thinking of THEM as emotionally needy, or in need of counsel to improve their family, social system.
- No support team forms unless there is a relationship of trust.
- People who accept teams understand the importance of healthy community. They also have an understanding that enlisting allies in nurturing their community is a strength and a skill, not a sign of weakness, or a short coming.
- Pastors see support teams as “one more obligation” and shy away from accepting this kind of partnership.
- Churches tend to respond collectively the way many families do on a smaller scale.
- The window for forming a team from the inpatient context is rather narrow. It needs the cooperation of more than just the intervention of a chaplain, and certainly, more than the appearance of the STN manager.
- The dynamics of ethnic differences influence how people respond. One needs profound sensitivity in these cases.
- When an ST forms, it makes a huge difference in the lives of all involved.
In the next post, I’ll deal with #1.