During this time of COVID 19, community support services can be challenging to find. Ever consider reaching out to your faith community? A faith community is a group of people who share a set of religious beliefs and practices. What you might not know is that many of these faith communities offer unrealized potential for support in time of need. Read on to find out how a faith community may help both you and the person you are caring for.
Religion and caregiver well-being
There have been studies linking religion to caregiver well-being. Some of the most commonly researched ways which religion may affect well-being include having supportive social networks, coping resources and positive emotional experiences.
Whether or not you have a religious affiliation, these communities can be a valuable resource for caregivers, even during this pandemic. Most faith communities have trained their leaders, members and volunteers with COVID protocols such as social distancing, proper mask wearing, hand sanitizing and contact tracing records for health and safety purposes. Of course this is something to confirm before accessing their support.
Ways a faith community can help
When you’re caring for a family member – whether you have specific needs or are overwhelmed and seeking help in general- faith communities may be able to help. If you are not sure where to start, first speak with the leaders of your faith group about your situation. Here are some suggested ways in which a faith community could be helpful:
- They may be able to provide some respite care when you just need a break.
- They could visit with your family member regularly to provide social interaction. This can be from local faith leaders, members or volunteers of the church, mosque, or temple.
- They could make accommodations to include you and your family in religious activities and services.
- They can support you with the day-to-day activities (shopping, errands, yard work, etc.)
- Faith leaders may provide counselling for overwhelmed caregivers.
- They could provide you with the opportunity to create a support group within the community or you may even have the option of joining an existing group.
How can you help caregivers in your faith community?
If you are currently part of a community and are looking for ways to help other caregivers, consider doing the following:
- Send letters, cards, or notes to those facing some tough challenges. Offer to include the caregiver in your prayers.
- Show small acts of kindness, like bringing someone library books, walking their dog, sending flowers, cooking a meal and other easy, but meaningful acts.
- Coordinate an online workshop through your local library to educate and help others on the topic of caregiving. Zooming has increasingly become a way to reach isolated caregivers.
- Telephone reassurance. Call the caregivers in your community and be there to listen.
Faith communities can do a lot to support caregivers. You can tap into that resource by just asking, so consider reaching out. Build your support network and know others are out there to help.
Do you have an experience of a faith community supporting you?