Online Peer Support for Care Partners For Those With Serious Illness
Submitted by Beth O’Donnell and Andrea Buccellato
Lyme New Hampshire is a model of a supportive community of neighbor helping neighbor. Lyme exemplifies how a community can come together to share time, knowledge, and resources to support one another. We hope you will embrace ConnectShareCare as another way to find support for yourself and for your neighbors.
ConnectShareCare is an amazing innovation created collaboratively with community members, patients, care partners and staff of Dartmouth-Hitchcock and Dartmouth College began a few years ago. Together, we recognized an unmet need for support for care partners and bereaved care partners of those with serious illness*. As a group, we collaborated to understand and list possible ways to provide support to our care partner community. Every voice was heard, and all ideas considered.
During the pandemic, it became evident that a virtual space would be most effective. Looking for examples, we discovered that Mayo Clinic Connect and ElderTree were successful online facilitated health network models. Envisioning a cozy virtual room where people could come and go, sit in an armchair and share their lived experience with each other, ConnectShareCare emerged, an online facilitated network supported by local community members and organizations throughout Vermont and New Hampshire aimed at tapping into the strength and wisdom of the community with lived experiences.
ConnectShareCare is a moderated secure site that is easy to use and available day or night. In addition to being a safe place to talk with and learn from others, we provide resources and conversation threads to assist caregivers in planning ahead and coping with both the practical and emotional aspects of being a care partner. Navigation through serious illness, communication, sharing of family resources, and emotional support are valuable components of this network. Most often through simple dialogues, sometimes support takes form in the sharing of poetry, photography, personal stories, music and art work.
We continue to welcome new members to our platform. We currently have 84 members and hope to reach 100 by the end of November. If you are a care partner of someone with a serious illness, have recently lost your partner, or know of someone who fits this role, please consider joining or referring others to our ConnectShareCare community.
We are seeking people who not only need help, support and a supportive community, but also those who are willing to share their lived experience with others.
Read on to learn how to join us!
To learn more, go to www.ConnectShareCare.org
To join the ConnectShareCare Community
- Go to ConnectShareCare.org
- Click JOIN
- Enter your email address
- Create a username and password
(Your username is the nickname that represents you and is visible to other members. You do not have to use your real name.)
- Click ACTIVATE MY ACCOUNT.
We encourage you to engage with this vibrant and vital community and to tell your friends and family members about it. Please do not hesitate to contact us with questions, we would be happy to arrange a call with you to help you sign up to the ConnectShareCare community.
The Dartmouth Institute
Norris Cotton Cancer Center
Patient and Family Support Services
*A serious illness is a health condition that comes with a high risk of mortality AND either negatively impacts a person’s daily function or quality of life OR excessively strains their caregivers.
Kelley & Bollund-Lund 2018, Identifying the population with serious illness: The ‘denominator” challenge. Journal of Palliative Medicine, Vol 21,52.
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Manager of Program Development
CommunityCare of Lyme