A new support group is being offered in Fergus Falls for anyone who takes care of someone that needs assistance.
Bonnie Franklin, director of the Brain Injury Collaborative of West Central Minnesota has helped spearhead a new group called the "Caregivers Support Group" that is sponsored by Lutheran Social Services (LSS).
Franklin describes what inspired her to get the group started was when her own spouse needed caregiver support and she had already been through a traumatic brain injury herself, but said she was able to connect with LSS and form her own caregiver support team made up of friends and family members that would be able to respond to give her support while she was taking care of him.
“I realized there was no one here to train me how to do that. I checked with my doctor of internal medicine and checked with other doctors and they said 'no, we don’t have geriatric services here,' so I started gathering up information and connecting with people that I had gotten to know. Now we actually have the woman who is the statewide director of LSS Caregiver Support program is starting a monthly session here,” said Franklin.
Franklin said participants will also have access to the person who’s in charge of the LSS Support Group, Cassie Walsh.
“In my other life before, I had been a mobile crisis therapist alcohol/ drug mental health therapist in my work in Wisconsin. I was used to having treatment plans for people and connecting them with options for individual care and support for their families, not just for them. So when this happened to me, I was told just to go home and 'call us if you have any problems.' That’s why this is so important to have this available for caregivers,” added Franklin.
LSS provides two options for people in the community. The first is personal and individual support for a caregiver, which is ongoing constantly. Any day of week, day or night if somebody needs help as a caregiver. She said LSS also has a caregiver support group that works with people on an individual basis.
Franklin said the second option is this support group that is starting up.
“This is the first time it will be here in Fergus Falls, but it’s also been available in Pelican Rapids for quite a while and there’s one in Detroit Lakes too,” said Franklin.
LSS social worker Tara Dean will be leading the support group in Fergus Falls.
The Caregivers Support Group will meet monthly at First Lutheran Church, at 402 South Court Street, with the first meeting taking place Mar. 1 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.