What is a support network?
A support network includes the family, extended relatives, friends, community groups and carers of people living with disability. Support networks are crucial in the ongoing care and development of individuals receiving specialist therapy supports.
Why are support networks important?
Supports networks provide the essential daily care and sustenance enabling people with disabilities to thrive between their scheduled therapy sessions.
At LiveBig, we understand the importance of support networks, and work to support them in every way we can. This involves working with the individual but also their family and other carers to establish a holistic approach to health and wellbeing that will give the best quality of life.
Involving the entire family or support network in care
Using a combination of assessment, education and targeted activities, a LiveBig allied health therapist is able to guide the person with disability, their parents, carers or even an entire classroom, through structured sessions aimed at building everyone’s capacity.
LiveBig involve entire families or others in the support network to increase quality health outcomes. Participants in a therapy session are able to watch, learn, play and get feedback to support ongoing practice and repetition of specific skills.
What does this look like?
This might look like playing a game that practices physical co-ordination, creating a safe space for expression or even shifting perspectives and thinking differently about challenging situations.
The role of the therapist is ultimately to empower a participant and their network to build skills that lead to sustainable outcomes and eventually make their services redundant.
Making learning fun
A speech therapist, for example, can introduce a role play to a classroom that practices use of visual clues in communication. While targeting a participant who needs to increase their use of eye contact and gesture, the therapist is able to build the capacity and skills of everyone in the classroom and support effective and meaningful exchanges of information between the participant, their peers and teachers using a system based on universal teaching and learning.
An occupational therapist working to build a participant’s bilateral co-ordination might introduce a throwing and catching game with a sibling or parent that feels more like fun than a gross motor exercise.
Families and caregivers share success
By maintaining the focus of an activity at the group level, rather than the target participant, learning and effort is shared and supported. Families and care givers become an integral part of the process of teaching and learning, as well as sharing the success as goals are achieved.
Celebrating the small wins
Positive reinforcement is possibly the most critical part of the therapy journey. Celebrating the small wins is particularly important in creating momentum towards the achievement of a specific therapy goal. Therapy sessions are often great opportunities for recognising and celebrating a person’s progress.
LiveBig therapists can provide insights and suggestions on how to do this based on a tailored reward program designed around individual goals and interests. They can provide support networks with a range of positive feedback strategies including praise, immediate reward and non-immediate reward.