Support systems of elders in rural communities
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The social network concept can be used to guide the extension of the mental health clinician's role to the practice of prevention on the local level. A model of such work is described which builds on clinical skills in collaborative consultation with formal and informal social support networks in a community. The model is illustrated and expanded through a case example of a project in a rural New England town to address issues of stress and support for frail elders. Focusing on the social network of such elders, consultations were developed to address the needs of middle generation caregivers, “natural helpers,” organized community associations, general community attitudes toward aging, and the ability of the community to secure and use outside resources. Issues of community entry through natural sponsorship are reviewed and the overall process of community empowerment is emphasized as a guiding principle in work with social networks.
KeywordsSocial Network Clinical Skill General Community Social Support Network Mental Health Clinician
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