Community Reentry Outings
By Cheryl Dahling, CCLS, Phoenix UBelong volunteer
Recovery for the burn survivor and their family does not stop when they are discharged from the hospital, it extends beyond that. For some it begins with the first step back into the community, back into their life outside of the hospital. The first step in anything can be moving, fulfilling and exciting. But for a burn survivor and their family it can also be intimidating and stressful. However, with support and the right tools it can be successful for all involved. One way to help overcome the uncertainty is by participating in a community reentry outing.
These types of outings provide survivors and their families with social interaction opportunities and the chance to use some simple techniques to gain confidence, know how to answer questions related to the burn injury, and begin to feel comfortable in social situations. How we enter a social setting, how we respond to people and questions, and how we present ourselves can influence the way people act and respond to us. When community outings happen in combination with supportive staff members they can serve as a stage to share difficulties and successes; provide peer support for one another and give opportunities to apply some simple social skill techniques. Learning social skills and becoming comfortable using them takes practice and community outings do just that, allow for the practice of social skills like Rehearsing Your Response and STEPS.
We have been learning about these social skill tools throughout our week in Phoenix UBelong and our oldest groups of adolescents went to Joe's Italian Ice to practice what they have learned and support each other through the process. Our community outings support the use of these newly learned social skills in a normal environment and allow the children to connect with people in the community. These reentry outings have become a vital part of our programming. The children learn, practice and take part in an outing and then can take home with them what they have experienced here in Phoenix UBelong and apply it at home.