Definitions of ‘facilitate’ include: make (an action or process) easy or easier; help forward with the added reflection careful planning facilitates any kind of work (www.dictionary.com/browse/facilitate).
Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses; different wants and needs. And these vary at different times in life. The need for involvement from others also varies at different times.
At a personal level, the thing we take for granted today could be a memory for tomorrow so if we can facilitate even the smallest help for someone else today, how much difference that could make to that person’s life.
Very simplistically the ‘how’ is the bringing together of people who can work together to achieve the desired outcome.
If someone is going shopping on a weekly basis and their neighbour cannot get to the shops, independence could be facilitated by a simple conversation with the outcome that a joint shopping trip is arranged – not where one person is shopping for another, but where two people travel together to the same destination, do their own thing, then travel home again. Alternatively, if there is someone who spends much time on their own and another has no one locally to take in their parcels... immediate contact and usefulness.
The how is looking for, or knowing:
- what is ‘out there’
- who can do what, or
- who has information about what
- who has an interest or /need in what
And bringing them together.
What is provided will vary very much according to the areas to be covered. There will obviously need to be attention given to what is available in the area and what the person may want support with at any given time. But common areas of facilitating are:
- transport to an appointment;
- taking someone with you to a club/shop/church service;
- a pair of eyes and a sounding board for form filling,
- completing referral sheets;
- diary planning or developing visual plans/data.
Facilitating can also include:
- Researching methods of making services/groups/information accessible to those with differing abilities – i.e. does the print on a service need to be larger/a different colour/a certain type of font
- Thinking through where the person who mobilises with a wheelchair can sit when the church is full of pews
- Thinking through how the church service can be enjoyed by someone living with dementia
All of these take limited time but can have extensive impact on someone’s day-to-day life.