A Circle of Care: Your Personal Support Network

What is a “circle of care”? Consider it your personal support network. It’s made up of the people in your life who enrich you and support your physical, emotional, and social wellbeing. They could be family members, friends, or health care workers –together, they comprise your circle of care.

How Does Day to Day Interaction With Your Circle of Care Look?

In the course of a typical week, there are many touch points within this group of people. It can include interactions such as an appointment with your family doctor, or meeting up with one of your children for coffee one afternoon. It could be your weekly ritual of calling a close friend for some good conversation. During times of change or stress, the circle of care offers support, advice and concern. These people can help to soothe feelings of loneliness and act as a network to help navigate through life’s challenges.

Formalize Your Circle of Care

When entering a transition period or dealing with a health challenge, creating a list of the members of your support network can be helpful. Ideally, your circle of care will include the following people:

Health Care Professionals: This can include family doctors, nurses in a care home, or any specialists you see. It’s important to have good communication between members of the circle of care; this is especially true of health teams. The better they know an individual’s particular needs and situation, the more they’ll be able to support that individual in a personal and proactive way in order to ensure and maintain good health.

Health Care Advocate: This is someone who knows you well and is able to communicate your concerns, preferences, and questions to health care professionals. Often, a family member takes on this role, advocating for you and speaking up if something is not working or is concerning. A family member may also act as a health care proxy, able to make certain health care decisions if you should need them to do so.

Close Friends and Family: These are often the people you feel closest to emotionally, such as friends and family. They provide emotional and social support in both good times and through challenges. Those who can give you non-judgmental acceptance and are able to make time to listen are important to involve in your circle of care.

The Wider Circle: There may be times that this circle widens to include other people as your needs change in the natural flow of life. For example, if you were moving, perhaps your realtor, lawyer or even the staff at a moving company could be included as part of the circle. You may also consider other individuals as part of your circle; perhaps your favourite hairdresser or barber. They may not play as central a role, but nevertheless add value.

Filling In The Gaps

If for some reason you find there are gaps in your support network, a care home or home care agency can step in to help. In a care home setting, nursing staff or activity staff can provide additional emotional, physical, and health support. They see residents on a regular basis, know them well, and ensure that a resident has everything they need to thrive.

We all have a personal network of people we rely on. A circle of care is made up of people who support your wellbeing in a proactive way. Make sure that your circle includes at least one person to support your wellbeing in every aspect of your life. If you find that you need additional support, look to a care agency or care home – there are plenty of options available to ensure you have what you need at every stage of life.

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