The Living Life to the Full program aims to compare different ways of supporting people who are struggling. Low mood and stress are common. We know that people and their families really value receiving support from someone.
We are aware that often those you support feel grateful for the help you offer, look forward to the support calls, and may feel a sense of regret and loss when that support comes to an end. It’s therefore important to help those you support plan for that ending, as well as reflecting on your own feelings – especially when you or the person believes they need ongoing support.
Why it is important that the support ends
a). To avoid creating dependency: Low mood and stress can cause anyone to doubt themselves, lose confidence, and look to others for support, decision-making and solutions. It’s our job to encourage people to help themselves. There is a danger that by offering too much advice and support, that the person begins to lose rather than gain confidence. Support that can be helpful in the short term may backfire if offered for longer than is needed. Research on using online and other resources shows that maximum benefits are often achieved over up to four sessions.
Key thing to say: The plan through all of the course is to help you find your own solutions and strategies.
b). The research project requires the support to be defined and time limited: The research aims to test different support approaches. To allow an accurate comparison the interventions need to be delivered in a standardised way. It’s very important therefore that the support is limited to around 2 hours in total.
Key thing to say: I’m required to offer the support in the way the researchers planned it. I know it can be frustrating but it’s important I keep to that.
c). But the person is still distressed and needs help: If the person you support is feeling worse, or continues to struggle with very low mood, or at any stage feels actively suicidal, they need more specialised support that this project – or you- can provide.
Key thing to say: I hope some of what we have covered has been helpful, but I’m concerned you need additional support. I strongly recommend you talk to your GP to discuss how you are feeling, so they can do an assessment and recommend what help you need.
Why ending support may feel difficult for you as a supporter
Do you ever have difficulties letting go? It’s worth asking yourself what might be happening within you as well as the person you support if either of you find endings difficult.
a). We may feel guilty and believe that we are walking away leaving someone who wants more of your time than can be offered.
b). Or perhaps we ourselves like feeling needed and value helping others.
Please bring your reflections on these questions and the process of ending support back to the regular training supervision that is offered.
Our recommendations for planning the ending of the support
Many of these more difficult situations can be avoided by establishing the right expectations from the start, and also planning next steps after the end of the support you offer.
1. At the start of the support: Discuss ending at the beginning
The intention right from the outset is that this is a time-limited, short and focused teaching support for people using the online resources. You plan to offer a maximum of around two hours of support typically split across 4 support contacts.
2. During the support: Establish a pattern of Plan-Do and Review
The entire programme is based around helping people help themselves by using and applying the LLTTF for Farming communities resources. As each topic is covered, it is linked to a pattern of Plan-Do and Review. That same pattern can then be continued beyond the end of the phone support sessions to provide an ongoing structure for self-management.
3). After the support ends: Encourage regular self-review sessions
As part of the third and final telephone support sessions, it’s important to start talking about planning for the future. This provides time for the person to prepare for this, and also for you both to discuss how they can continue to keep putting what has been learned into practice. One approach is to encourage the person to put a recurrent diary appointment into their phone calendar so that they replace the weekly contacts with you, with a session they lead themselves. The same structure of Review the previous week, and then Plan next steps (e.g. read an online book, complete a module or apply – Do – what they have learned) can help them continue to move forwards.
You might also briefly signpost other places where the person can find help in future if they struggle.
Possible places to signpost people to:
- Their own GP or health team.
- NHS 24: Phone 111.
- The Scottish Association for Young Farmers: Phone 0131 3332445.
- Breathing Space: Phone 0800 83 85 87 (6pm to 2am, weekdays and 24 hours at the weekend). Calls are free from landlines and mobiles.
- NHS Living Life: Phone 0800 3289655 (Monday to Friday 1pm-9pm).
- NHS Inform at www.nhsinform.scot
In an emergency:
The Samaritans: Phone 0330 0945717.
Or visit your local Accident and Emergency department.