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News Wednesday, September 13, 2017 Sunday, November 12, 2017 1:19 PM - Sunday, November 12, 2017 1:19 PM

The power of peer support

Peer to peer group 

Shriners Hospitals for Children — Springfield is pleased to offer a Peer-to-Peer mentor program to all patients and families as part of the hospital’s ongoing commitment to providing a family-centered care environment. The idea was initiated by members of the hospital’s Patient Family Advisory Council (PFAC) and implemented with great success.

The child life team at the Springfield Shriners Hospital oversees the program, which connects patients and families to others who are dealing with similar conditions or situations. Peer supporters offer emotional support, share coping skills and provide practical advice to one another. 

Benefits of peer support:

  • Helps develop new relationships and lasting friendships
  • Promotes wellness
  • Improves coping skills and adjustment
  • Improves compliance (e.g., medication adherence)
  • Increases satisfaction with health status
  • Reduces feelings of social isolation
  • Provides opportunities to share life experiences
  • Reduces general psychological distress and anxiety
  • Enhances self-esteem and confidence
  • Provides mutual encouragement and support
  • Instills a sense of belonging, identity, empathy and hope

“Every family deserves the opportunity to connect with someone who has walked a similar path to be reminded they are not alone. Our mission is to help create family-to-family partnerships to promote effective coping skills and to enhance the quality of life for the child and family,” stated, Samantha West, MSW, CCLS, Child Life Specialist, PFAC Chair.

“The Peer-to-Peer mentor program allows patients and families to ask questions and get perspective from those who have 'been in their shoes.' This knowledge, when added to the medical provider perspective, helps patients and their families navigate through the ins and outs of new diagnoses and treatment courses,” commented Kim Lebel, PFAC member and mom of patient.

If you have any questions on how peer support can help your family, please contact our child life department at 413-735-1251.