The Community Effect: what’s the point?

The Community Effect

What’s the point of this Community Effect business anyway?

The point, that is, the reason for this thought experiment, goes back to the impetus. When I was meeting many people who were seemingly disconnected from care and support networks the predominant impulse was to get them help.  But of course, one person cannot provide many people with everything they need to prop them up and correct their loneliness and detachment.

I observed that patients who came in for visits in the company of “a caregiver” were generally stronger, happier, and more stable, or perhaps they were just less lonely, alienated, and lost.

original artwork by jjsjr
  • A woman came with her husband
  • Another with her closest friend
  • In my experience male patients always came alone, but then, there were many fewer of them for the condition I was working with.
  • One woman would come with her husband and her three children

The point was that they were not alone.  Not only did they have a caregiver with them but the role of that caregiver was usually significant.  How so?

The Caregivers would:

  • provide the ride or be travelling partners
  • helped recall medications, appointments, symptoms
  • provided insights into the patient’s mental or emotional state, or a perspective on their symptoms

So something about this partnership, this community, was having a positive effect on the patient in general.  How do I know?

Patients who came with a caregiver:

  • were generally happier/cheerier
  • had a “back up brain” to help them remember details
  • (on a practical level) were more patient waiting for appointments because they had a person to distract them
  • visits/interviews probably took more time than if there was no caregiver (due to interjections, usually welcomed ones)
  • were more compliant with visits

There is value there both for clinicians, managers, patients, and loved ones.


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