The Society expands its regional outreach
In 2015, one of the Society’s priorities was to extend its outreach to members across the province and to diversify its activities held outside the metropolitan area. As a result during this year, the Society traveled to thirteen administrative regions, organized more support groups outside of Montreal than it had ever done and held thirteen teleconferences.
New Support Group in Montérégie
When Alexandra Sofio, a psychosocial counsellor at the Society, started her Masters project in early 2015, she had not anticipated that it would lead to a regular support group for people living on the South Shore of Montreal. “From January to April, I met with a small group of caregivers to learn more about their experiences. At the end of the project, it was clear there was a real need for this type of support on a permanent basis.” Today, the group includes both caregivers and people with ALS. “Participants are divided into two groups: the caregivers and those living with ALS. It’s important that the caregivers have their own space to focus on their needs and express what they feel openly. It gives them an opportunity to find their voice as a caregiver and as a person,” she says. “Their meetings help them see that they aren’t alone. They work on problems together and often develop a new sense of hope.”
“Huge thanks to all of you. It’s such a pleasure to see everyone at the support group, and we return home with renewed energy. Your support is precious to us.” – A group member
Awareness or support activities in 13 administrative regions
Beaconsfield, Boucherville, Bromont, Brossard, Chambly, Charlevoix, Contrecœur, Drummondville, Gatineau, Laval, Lennoxville, Longueuil, Lorraine, Montréal, Outaouais, Pointe-Claire, Pointe-aux-Outardes, Québec, Rivière-du-Loup, Saint-Hyacinthe, Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Saint-Jérôme, Saint-Lambert, Saint-Nicolas, Sherbrooke, Saguenay Lac-Saint-Jean, Sorel, Varennes, Verchères.
Regular presence in Quebec City
With the help of dedicated volunteers and facilitators, the Society has also expanded its services in the Quebec City area. Subsequently, twelve support groups and a workshop for caregivers were held. “This kind of support is invaluable and helps caregivers as well as people with ALS. We need this support as we navigate through the different stages of this disease,” said one participant. The Society is grateful for the contributions made by our facilitators and volunteers: Line Beauregard, Claudette Brizard, Odette Bussieres, Diane Ferland, Josiane Falardeau and Odette Lacroix.
Helping a support group grow
Yves Lafleur has worked as a psychosocial counsellor with the Society since 2009 and leads a support group in Lorraine, north of Montreal. “It’s a social encounter that greatly benefits everyone,” says Yves. “The meetings allow our members to talk about what’s on their mind at any given point. The group was founded by Chantal Lanthier, diagnosed with ALS in 2013, and is growing steadily. When new people join us, they really benefit from meeting our longer-term members.”
Support one phone call away
In addition to support groups, the Society organizes conference calls through which it is able to reach people from all across the province. In 2015, 13 conferences have permitted the Society to extend its outreach to people with ALS, caregivers and healthcare professionals. Several experts were able to provide quality information over the phone on various aspects of life with the disease. These conferences are diverse and allow to break the isolation of our members. Moreover, several support meetings also take place on the phone and give rise to twinning between members. These calls create and maintain a contact between members and the Society. According to Mr. Lafleur, “This is a convenient alternative to face-to-face meetings for members living outside of the Metropolitan area or whose mobility is limited.”