PAIN SUPPORT GROUPS
APMA currently operates a national network of Pain Support Groups (PSG) throughout Australia, which meet regularly. These PSGs offer support, friendship, information, presentations and guest speakers. The groups are for everyone in the community living with pain (and their family members) and are FREE for APMA members. Non-members are asked to contribute a gold coin at each meeting to reimburse costs.
Each Pain Support Group has at least one (and preferably several) facilitators, and whilst each group has its own character and approach, all offer support, friendship, information and presentations and guest speakers. The purpose of the groups is to offer positive support and encouragement, with a focus on supporting and encouraging self-management of pain and use of evidence-based treatment. Information leaflets, calendars, thematic materials and group activities to support pain self-management have been developed.
Common operating principles include:
- Confidentiality of personal information;
- Sharing as an important part of supporting each other, share how you've been coping over the recent weeks, what you've been doing and what has helped and what has been difficult; and
- Doctor Respect – individual negative comments about healthcare professionals are strongly discouraged.
A 3-day residential training seminar for facilitators (and other key APMA volunteers) was held in early 2014, where almost 30 facilitators and other volunteers came together at for a long weekend of discussions, training and workshops to increase skills. Participants learnt about APMA, its structure, operations and philosophy; developed marketing, fund-raising and community organising plans; and analysed and practiced communication and group management skills. A further similar seminar took place in November 2016.
There is a continuing demand for more PSG in other cities and locations around Australia. However, it is important that groups are sustainable, and requires facilitators with the interest, health, and skills to establish and run a PSG Support Group. The role can be physically and emotionally demanding, whilst very rewarding. As we do not wish to 'burn out' facilitators nor have groups fold soon after being established, we continue to proceed carefully with the establishment of new PSGs. If you have the interest, health and skills to be a co-facilitator of a Pain Support Group (or know of somebody else who may be interested), please email your expression of interest to [email protected]. Support, materials and training is provided to facilitators.
Many of the Pain Support Groups undertake activities or events additional to the regular meetings. These may include newsletters, Facebook pages; exercise or walking activities; coffee meetings and a wide range of fundraising events. Contact or join a Pain Support group today - or help to set one up.