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Online Support Groups

What is an Online Support Group?

An Online Support Group is a safe and confidential space for people with a similar experience of cancer to discuss what is happening to them and how they are feeling. The groups meet online on a weekly basis and at a set time. The groups are a maximum of eight members so that people can get to know each other more easily. Each week, people can raise any issue they wish to explore with others in the group. There is no set agenda. The facilitator's role is to ensure people feel safe and involved in the discussion.

We run support groups for different needs - find out which is most suitable for your situation by reading the information about the groups or how a support group can help you.

There are also private conversations where people in the group can carry on their discussions outside of the weekly sessions.

How do I join a support group?

Read through the information and decide which group is right for you. Click on the Sign Up link next to the group you wish to join. Your profile name will be entered automatically if you are logged in. If you are not logged in, or not a member of the site, you will be prompted to register or log in to your account.

When your application to join a support group is received, the facilitator will contact you by e-mail to arrange a suitable time for you to have a telephone chat. It is then common practice for the facilitator to contact your GP to ensure that the group you've chosen is best matched to your needs. Details of how and when to access the group will be sent to your personal inbox. Depending on demand for a place in the group you may need to wait a while until a space becomes available.

Why do you need to speak to me?

Support groups are built on trust. To build a sense of trust in an online environment we need to be able to demonstrate that, to the best of our knowledge, everyone in the group is experiencing cancer in the way they say they are. This is to ensure you get the most appropriate support for your situation.

What will happen when we call?

We will speak to you about how we can help you and what support you want from the group. We will ask you for details of your GP and for permission to contact them. These details will be kept on a secure database. At no time will these details be available to anyone outside of Maggie's. We will keep these details for as long as you use your profile, and for 2 years afterwards. Find out more

We will also talk through what the Online Support Group can offer and answer any questions that you have about it.

How long will I have to wait to join a group?

Support groups run for 12 weeks with the option to extend your membership of the group for a further 12 weeks. Each group can have up to 8 members.

Do I need to create a profile?

Yes, you need to create a profile with Maggie's Online Centre to join an Online Support Group.

Do I need great computer and typing skills?

No, if you have got this far then your computer skills are good enough for an Online Support Group! Don't worry about typing speed and spelling - nobody's judging you. It's hard enough working out what you want to say without having to worry about typos.

Is it confidential?

Yes, we guarantee that anything you say in an Online Support Group is confidential. Transcripts of the group sessions are only available to group members and facilitators and are stored on our secure database. In the future, transcripts may be used for research purposes but they will be totally anonymous so anything you discuss cannot be traced to you.

Everything discussed during an Online Support Group is confidential and members must keep it within the 'four walls' of the group. Please don't discuss anything raised within the group with anyone else without the member and the group's explicit consent. If you think another member is breaking this agreement please send a personal message to the Online Manager. We have created a private group with conversations that Online Support Group members can access and we ask that you discuss all group issues here, not on the public conversations. Transcripts of group sessions are also available and we ask you not to share these with anyone else.

The only exception to maintaining your confidentiality is if you give us reason to believe that you, or anyone else, are at risk of significant harm. In this event, we may need to take steps to ensure that appropriate help is given by contacting a relevant professional. However, we would aim to discuss any worrying issues with you prior to our needing to pass on any information.

Want to know more? Go to our confidentiality policy.

What records do you keep?

The transcripts of each session are stored on the Online Support Group page but are only accessible to group members and the facilitator.

Want to know more? Go to what records we keep.

How long will a session last?

Online Support Group sessions will last for approximately 60 minutes each week.

Who facilitates the Online Support Groups?

The support groups are facilitated by Clinical Psychologists employed by Maggie's Cancer Caring Centres. All the Clinical Psychologists are registered with the British Psychological Society.

What if the Online Support Group is full or not available when I want to join?

If an Online Support Group is not available when you need it there are other ways for you to access the support or information you need.

Access the Conversations - you can read what other people are discussing or post a message for others to comment on. The conversations are always open.

Ask a question in one of our Specialist Groups - our Maggie's Specialists are on hand to offer advice and support should you need it. These groups are not real time and so you may have to wait a day or two for a response.

Create or update your personal blog to remind yourself of what you want to ask or how you are feeling.

Speak to your medical team or call into one of the Maggie's Centres.

Policy created: May 2008.
Policy reviewed: June 2009.
Review date: December 2009.

Registered Office: Maggie's, The Stables, Western General Hospital, Crewe Road, Edinburgh EH4 2XU   Registered Charity Number: SC024414
The Maggie Keswick Jencks Cancer Caring Centres Trust is a company limited by guarantee   Company Number: SC162451