Responding in a culturally appropriate way to needs of the Arabic-speaking community comes naturally to the Victorian Arabic Social Services (VASS). So when tasked with supporting members of their community requiring a palliative care approach, VASS decided on a support-group strategy.
Supporting cultural connection
Members of the Palliative Care Program have three things in common: a shared culture, a common diagnosis of either chronic or terminal illness and an interest in participating in a weekly socio-cultural activity with others of similar language background. The group meets at the VASS office in Broadmeadows, participate in social and cultural activities facilitated by the Program Coordinator, Mouna Fouda, and once a month, enjoy a bus trip together.
Weekly activities include watching favourite movies, singing songs together, going for a drive, having a laugh, sharing experiences. It is not surprising then, that a bond develops among group members!
“Members of the Palliative Care Program enjoy their time in the group and look forward to coming together as it provides an outlet for them to mix and get out of the home, breaking up the week’s general routine. The group’s participants always form great bonds,” says Mona.
Feedback received from group members, their carers and families echoes this. “I feel happy when I come to the group because I love the activities!” exclaims one group member.
Carers access support or respite
An additional benefit is that the carers and family members get some time out for themselves, an opportunity to speak to a worker or to catch up on things they enjoy doing knowing that their relative is happy and cared for.
The Victorian Arabic Social Services received ancillary services grant funding in June 2018 to implement a group-based palliative social support program for the Victorian Arabic-speaking community.
Photographs supplied by Mouna Fouda (VASS)