Enhancing outcomes? … With social networking?

by Jay Drayer, Guest Blogger

In 2005, while as a busy CFO, I became a family caretaker around a serious health challenge in a loved one.  This eye-opening experience unwound over months in ICU and weeks in hospice, followed by the loss of our loved one.

As everything unfolded, it became so apparent that the vast majority of our friends and loved ones were trying not to intrude, limiting their interactions to well-wishes and messages of support, and continually asking, “If there’s anything we can do, will you please let us know?”

We saw it all:  Pervasive downtime and aloneness.  The meals three families brought us the same evening.  The awkwardness in requesting much needed help with errands, child care, lawn care, meals, pet care and the list grew longer every day.

Don’t get me wrong, the first few days were easy.  But as time wore on, it became clear why family caretakers so commonly experience depression.  They work to keep their morale up.  They share recovery updates with painful redundancy.  They juggle many balls in their lives while keeping a smile on their face.  They fight the good fight.  They do all this because that’s what they do.

To me, enabling friends and loved ones to become comfortably and naturally engaged was THE most challenging part of care-taking.  This applied as much in the hospital but much more after we were discharged and sent home.  And when our circumstances ended in a loss, the landscape with most of our friends was so much about bereavement versus what we really craved which was of course, meaningful social engagement.  It was obvious to all of us (in the hospital AND post-discharge) that if we could have enabled our friends and loved ones to move beyond well-wishes and inquiring how they could help … and eventually, condolences … to heal together as a community, this process would have been … well … better.

These are the experiences that led me to create CareFlash.  CareCommunities created by families in CareFlash extend the healing power of recovery updates and well-wishes, leveraging empathy by enabling friends to place themselves in the shoes of family caretakers … versus just sympathy.

Through a partnership with CareFlash, Ronald McDonald House Charities provides free, easy-to-create CareCommunities that take just minutes for a family to set up, and require no technical skills. CareCommunities empower participants to engage in unobtrusive, non-threatening ways – enabling members to support, strengthen and interact as a community, fostering emotional connections that enhance wellness by nurturing physical and mental engagement

Key features include:

  • Private, invitation-only, online CareCommunity
  • Blog for sharing updates, well wishes, care and love
  • iHelp Calendar for requesting and organizing logistical and social engagement … without putting anyone on the spot
  • Health, wellness and spiritual content for educating, alleviating anxiety and helping everyone heal in their own personal way
  • A photo gallery to share photos and relive great memories
Sample Care Calendar in a Care Community
Sample Care Calendar

View the brief CareFlash video at www.RMHC-Austin.org and click the convenient link to start your own free CareCommunity today… with the best wishes of Ronald McDonald House Charities.

Jay Drayer is a former Chief Financial Officer who is evidence that positive transformation can be driven by tragic events.  After having personally witnessed 9/11 while on his way to a 9 a.m. meeting in downtown New York City, Jay committed to reorient his life to make a difference.  Not long after that, he had an eye-opening experience while serving as a family caretaker ~ around which he conceived CareFlash which he founded in 2006.  He’s active with many causes and loves the ways that volunteering makes him feel.  Jay and his wife Terry live in downtown Austin, TX.

This entry was posted in Guest Blogger, Kids & Families, Ronald McDonald House Charities and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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