Facilitators need to know when and how to make referrals when implementing book-sharing and other community programmes.
When the Mikhulu Trust trains facilitators in our parenting programme, we also make sure that they are well equipped to deal with psychosocial problems that can affect parents. We know that parents and facilitators develop trusting and comfortable relationships. Parents may share their personal challenges or problems with the facilitator. Parents may need practical help, emotional support or access to services.
Making sure that facilitators understand their role and stick to their scope of work can benefit any organisation. Facilitators are often not equipped to handle psychosocial problems. The best way for them to assist the parents is through referrals.
The following facilitator story demonstrates how effective referrals can be when implementing community programmes.
Ndileka is a trained home visitor for the Foundation for Community Work (FCW) in the Western Cape. She works primarily with the community in Langa. From June 2019, she has been facilitating a book-sharing programme in her community with a group of parents with the support of the Mikhulu Trust.
A parent in the group confided in Ndileka about her concern for her child. Ever since the child was born, the child has not said a word. The mother hasn’t known what was wrong. She came to Ndileka seeking help and support.
Ndileka contacted the Department of Social Development and got hold of a local social worker and referred the case. The case was then referred to Somerset Hospital to the Department of Speech and Therapy.
It took a once-off consultation with clinicians for the child to be diagnosed. The child was found to be suffering from a hardened, clogged ear. This limited the child‘s ability to make sense of sounds and to respond. The doctor unblocked the ear, and the child regained their hearing and their ability to learn speech.
We can learn from this story that just a simple step of referral from the facilitator can put information in the hands of the parent. They can then find a solution to their own problems, without the facilitator feeling overwhelmed and pressured to deal with problems that they are not equipped to handle.