Human beings experience significant life events throughout their lifetime that define the course of their lives. According to Franz (2008), significant life events are occasions or happenings that cause changes in a person’s life. These include changes that transpire in a person’s thoughts regarding themselves, their surroundings and their situations. Franz (2008) further observes that in some scenarios, these events can cause behavioral changes in a person. However, it is essential to note that behavioral changes are not necessary to define significant life event. Some of the significant life events include marriage, birth, pregnancy, disease, death, divorce and rape among others. Speaking from this perspective, this paper will analyse the impact of significant life events on individuals and their social networks, the available support for individuals experiencing significant life events, and the support of health and social care services to individuals experiencing significant life events.
Impact of significant life events on individuals
To begin with, it is essential to note that significant life events have both positive and negative impacts on individuals. According to available research, individuals identify significant life events from the gain/loss perspective. In reference to Ballas and Dorling (2007), significant life events that promote an individual’s wellness are more likely to enhance his or her happiness. In this regard, the events such as marriage, employment and birth have a higher likelihood of promoting and individual’s wellbeing thus providing a platform for an individual to be happy. This implies that significant life events in an individual’s life is promote of wellness and happiness.
Whereas this is the case, it is important to note that most research and studies on significant life events highlight its negative impacts. Notably, significant life events could have a negative impact on an individual’s health. In his study, Berardo (2006) notes that significant life events can influence the effect of stress on an individual, which may result in changes in intellectual, social and physical health. In addition to this, significant life events may have a negative impact on an individual’s perception of himself or herself. Crozier (2013) explains that significant life events in an individual’s life that portray loss could lead to low image and self-esteem. For example, an individual whose family is evicted from their rental home because of failure to pay rent may result in such an individual feeling as a failure. This may cause such a person to feel helpless, engage in self-condemnation leading to low self-esteem.
Group responses to significant life events that occur to one of its members
Research and studies indicate that the group could elicit different responses to significant life events that occur to one of its members. However, it is vital to note that the responses from the group are highly dependent on the life events that have occurred in one of its individuals. For example, it should be noted that in case of an event such as terminal illness or even death, the group can respond to the affected individual with sympathy, consideration and understanding. Similarly, it has been observed that the group may also respond to significant life events in an individual’s life by sacrificing its time and resources to help its member morally, socially, emotionally or psychologically, depending on the life event that its member is going through.
Similarly, the group may react by adapting to the new changes as a result of the individual’s life significant event(s). In regard, the group may readjust in order to adapt to the new changes to accommodate their member who may have now acquired new behaviors and lifestyle as a result of the events. For example, when a child’s parents die in an accident, the extended family may need to readjust in order to live with a new member of their family. Whereas this is the case, the group may react negatively towards the significant life events that occur to one of its members, especially when it feels that the event was a result of the individual’s fault. For example, the group may react towards its member who has gone through a significant life event with resentment (Bein, 2008).
Impact for Others in Health and Social Care When an Individual Experiences Significant Life Events
The significant life events have an impact on other people in the health and social care sector. Arguably, individuals in health and social care sectors are prompted to seek to understand the lifespan development as well as the social, emotional, intellectual and physical needs of people going through significant life events (Thomas, Mason & Ford, 2003). With this in mind, individuals in health and social care are forced to appreciate the care requirements that people who are going through significant life events need at different stages of life. Note that without such understanding, individuals in health and social care cannot develop roles, strategies and programs to serve individuals experiencing significant life events better (Thomas, Mason & Ford, 2003). Speaking from this point of view, when individuals are experiencing significant life events, this is an opportunity for people in health and social care to learn how to serve such individuals better. For example, when a person is going through divorce, individuals in the health and social care sector have an opportunity to learn how to respond to such a situation in a way that will lessen the victim’s loss and pain effectively and faster (Thomas, Mason & Ford, 2003).
Available support for individuals experiencing significant life events
Research and studies indicate that organizational systems have developed policies and procedures to support individuals and their social networks when they are affected by significant life events. In reference to Thomas, Mason and Ford (2003), without the organizational policies and procedures, it is difficult to help individuals and/or their groups that are going through changes. Whereas this is the case, research findings point to the fact that most organizational systems do not follow the laid down organizational policies and procedures to help individuals going through significant life events. On the contrary, Thomas, Mason and Ford (2003) mention that in most cases, the organizational systems do not adhere to these rules and regulations fully and as such, support is provided to person(s) going through a significant life event in a haphazard manner.
In some cases, these policies and procedures are not invoked at all and as such, the person going such an event is not supported at all. For example, there is little or no support at all for the younger people, who may undergo difficulties to adapt to their new environment due to loss of friends and being away from parents when changing schools. However, there is little evidence to indicate that organizational policies and procedures have been applied to support them. Whereas this is the case, in the healthcare sectors, these policies are followed to help individuals recover from their significant life events that may have brought abrupt changes into their lives.
Reflection on personal contributions to support individuals experiencing significant life events
On a personal level, I have contributed towards supporting individuals experiencing significant life events by providing social, emotional, intellectual and physical support. On a number of occasions, I have given people with terminal illness intellectual and physical support. In this regard, I mainly advised and encouraged these individuals to be strong and to understand that we as family and friends loved them. Similarly, I have socially supported my friends and colleague when undergoing significant life events such as loss of a loved one because of death, unemployment, early pregnancy and accidents among others. One of the issues I have learned is that each of these situations present a unique challenge and an opportunity to learn about life as well as how to support others. In some cases, such scenario provided emotional, social and intellectual in my life with respect to the events I was experiencing at the time of providing this support.
This paper proposes a few recommendations. To begin with, there is a need to evaluate the history of the person going through significant life events. Note that this will help determine whether the stress and pain that such person is going has been there before (long term) or it is just as a result of the current event alone. Similarly, there is a need to develop programs that promote continuous learning since significant life events keep on changing. Let every disaster and emergency provide a platform to learn how to handle it better and professionally.
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