The Support Team Network’s mission is to teach volunteers how to offer intentional support to persons with any healthcare need through a sustainable, joyful model.
A Team Approach allows people to do what they can, when they can, in a coordinated way, with a built-in support system by meeting practical, emotional, and spiritual needs of persons with healthcare needs.
This model makes it easier for the recipient to receive care by communicating all activities through one or two trusted persons. And it makes it easier for persons who want to help in a coordinated way so that it does not depend on one person.
We start teams in a couple of ways.
One, we begin with a person who needs support and build a team around him/her from his/her congregation, co-workers, neighbors or friends.
Two, we offer train-the-trainer training, called Coaches Training, for congregations, and organizations so that teams can be started for persons already known, or reach out to persons who do not have support in a community.
Our latest initiative is forming Support Teams with undergraduate and graduate students at UAB to care for patients and families who are waiting for or recovering from a transplant at The UAB Townhouse. This is part of student’s “service learning” in the community.
Examples of what a Support Team can do includes: a friendly visitor at home or in the hospital, a telephone call of encouragement, a handwritten note of hope, cutting someone’s grass, taking them to a doctor’s appointment, preparing and delivering a meal, picking up medicines from the pharmacy, sharing reading materials or a prayer, and much more. The key is coordinating this care so that it is best for the person receiving it, and most practical to those offering it.
The Support Team Network is coordinated by the UAB Pastoral Care department and works with “Support Team Champions” in the UAB Health System as well as community members. This is the first program of its kind to be offered by an academic University Medical Center or public hospital as an education outreach program.
Brief History: The Support Team Network has taught persons to develop volunteer teams through 125 two-day trainings located in 37 states. Over 5,000 persons have attended the two-day trainings, and an estimated 10,000 teams have been created.
Support Teams reflect UAB Medicine’s core values:
- Always care – Listen with empathy, be compassionate and support those in need.
- Own it - Be accountable, take action and make it happen.
- Work together - Think win-win, build consensus and play your role on the team.
- Do right - Follow through, work with principles, and do no harm.
- Best Practices of Support Teams – Learn about the flexibility of Support Teams
- Support Team Orientation – Preparation to be on a Support Team.
- Support Team Development Training – Train the trainer training to learn how to start Support Teams for any need.
- Support Team Development Guidebook – How to develop Support Teams.
- Support Team Videos – Training resources for Support Team development.
Disclaimer: UAB Medicine provides training and materials for the community to organize volunteer Support Teams. This Support Team model is one of many ways a community can work together to care for one another. Each team is responsible for its own actions and relationships.