Always remember to be gentle with the friends and family who attend your programs – they are managing many demands and are often navigating a lot of complex feelings and circumstances with someone they care for. They are doing the best that they can. They can also be both a source and a victim of stigma as well. They have taken a good step in participating in a museum program, even when they may not feel confident or at ease themselves.
- Try to model best practices throughout your program – how to communicate, how to participate, how to support. There is a lot to be learned through participation and observation.
- Find regular opportunities to talk about the goals of the program – to enjoy time together, to share ideas, to have fun in the process of looking, talking and participating in hands-on activities. This is helpful when validating the contributions of participants, and during conversations and activities. Acknowledging that they may be trying something for the first time emphasizing the importance of having fun and that there are no wrong answers.
- Where needed take opportunities to take small moments to engage a single participant and loved one, to suggest ways that they can work together
- Where necessary, find a private moment to speak to the care partner to offer individualized guidance, reassurance, suggestions. This can be at the end of a program, or a follow-up phone call.