Creating an IC Support Group Meeting Schedule
How often should you meet?
Our local support group began with quarterly meetings. However, we were asked by our membership to go to monthly meetings because they wanted more support. This was a very demanding schedule even if with two co-leaders, particularly during the winter months when travelling is difficult. After two years of doing this, we noticed that our attendance began to decrease. We compromised on our meeting schedule and decided to meet every two months and then transitioned to quarterly. Our group functioned for about fifteen years before it was time to do other things. (i.e. like build the ICN website)
Meeting Times & Cancellations
Some groups prefer to meet on weekend afternoons while others prefer weeknights, usually for up to two hours. The challenge with night meetings is safety and restroom access. Many patients aren’t as comfortable driving at night, especially when traditional bathroom stops may not be available.
Don’t hesitate to cancel meetings if travelling conditions are poor. To make sure that everyone is informed of any last minute changes and save yourself from making dozens of phone calls the morning of the event, ask everyone to confirm the meeting by checking the blog, texting you or sending email.
If there are any other support groups within 100 miles of you, make sure that you are considerate of their times. Don’t hold meetings on the same days or weekend. Try to stagger them so that people have the opportunity to participate in both settings.
Support groups and support group leaders have a predictable lifetime. They’ll last as long as there are people who want to help and members who want to attend. Some groups last two years, others ten but, eventually, that group leader will need to move on. If there is no-one willing to help and/or if you’re meetings are getting smaller, then it’s time to consider cutting back on your meetings and/or suspending the group completely.
Some group leaders choose to offer phone support after they stop holding in-person meetings. This is a great solution because it takes the pressure off the leader to create the meetings yet still provides support opportunities.
There is no shame in stopping an IC Support Group. No, you won’t be abandoning your members because there is plenty of support available on-line. We hope that you find comfort in knowing that you’ve helped so many patients while you were a support group leader and we wish you the best in the future to come!
Author: Jill Osborne