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 the care can be shared among many persons.
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. We are training “coaches” in various units of our hospital to start teams for patients.
Two, we offer 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.
Another initiative of ours 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, a telephone call of encouragement, a handwritten note of hope, a ride to the doctor, preparing and delivering a nutritious meal that the person loves to eat, 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 a new way of caring by the UAB Pastoral Care department and works with the UAB Health System as well as community members.
Brief History: The Support Team Network taught persons to develop volunteer teams through 125 two-day trainings located in 37 states between 1994-2006. Over 5,000 persons attended the two-day trainings, and an estimated 10,000 teams were created. The program was put on hold in 2006, and is now being restarted by UAB Hospital to create better support for patients when they go home from the hospital.
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.