To help support engagement, personal connections between facilitators and participants are very valuable. Building a relationship through individual contact, developing some familiarity and trust with each participant can go a long way towards successful engagement. Being comfortable together, first with the facilitator and then later with each other, is an important part of the social connection and overall program success.
Before a program begins, calling each participant (or their loved one when requested) on the phone is a great way to begin to build a relationship with the facilitators. Use the phone call to introduce yourself, and answer any questions they have. You can also use this call to share important information about what to expect, or how to access your program. Where friends or family members are involved, they may have questions for you as well, but wherever possible, speak to the participant directly, rather than just speaking about them to their partner.
Planning for consistent staffing for programs is also important for fostering relationships for both the facilitator and the participants. As a facilitator, you will get to know your participants over time – how they interact with others, what they like and dislike, and some strategies to support their participation that work best. Participants will feel valued and respected by your connection, and the familiarity they develop with you will add to their comfort and enjoyment in the program.