From Peer-Support to Peer Mentoring to Peer Coaching

24 July, 2018

Peer support is a powerful tool. People who have lived-experience of spinal cord injury (SCI) possess knowledge and experience that is incredibly valuable in helping others in similar circumstances.

Since 1987 Spire has been providing SCI peer support. It is an effective way of addressing the stresses and challenges that people living with SCI may face, and provides a wide range of benefits to someone’s health, wellbeing and quality of life. We believe one person’s experience of SCI and everything that comes with the resulting change to their life can be tremendously valuable when shared with another person going through the same, or similar, experience.

Casual peer support can often turn into an ongoing peer mentoring relationship where often people with a newly acquired injury connect with, and are resourced by, someone else with lived experience as they navigate their transition from rehab to life in the community. At Spire we have 70+ peer support volunteers, coordinated by a small group of paid peer support workers. They all undertake three days of intensive peer mentor training, and along with their own experience, can provide support and guidance around a range of areas; the emotional roller coaster, practical tips and tricks, and sharing more personal challenges and issues such as bladder and bowel issues; family, relationships and sexuality; parenting; equipment and modifications; travel and leisure etc.

Shared experience is invaluable when shared with another person going through the same, or similar, experience.

Learn tips & tricks - personal challenges, relationships, travel, leisure etc...

Until now we have been providing general peer support and peer mentoring, supporting all aspects of a person’s life but as we progress our vision and approach, based on feedback from our volunteers and community, a new space has emerged for peer coaches. Still coming from the valued lived-experience perspective, the coaches’ aim will be to support and guide people around specific areas of life – to set personal goals and work systematically to resource oneself to achieve them. To start, we will be developing coaches around the areas of Health and Employment.

Peer Health Coaches will assist people to frame expectations, make informed decisions and to take ownership of and achieve their overall health and wellbeing goals. It is not a prescriptive health intervention but will utilise community lived experience and knowledge, supported by up to date clinical information to cover elements, including but not limited to; bladder and bowel health, skin and wound management, mental health and healthy lifestyles.

Employment Coaches will focus specifically on supporting others with SCI in all aspects of their career development or study goals – to encourage people with SCI to develop their full professional potential and to find, retain and advance their employment status. They will be open to supporting people who may be beginning their career, looking to re-enter the workforce post injury, employed full or part time, unemployed or going through a work/career transition.

Both peer coaching services will be delivered by trained coaches with significant lived-experience of life post-SCI, with] particular success and experience in their area of coaching (i.e. health & wellbeing outcomes or employment/career outcomes). The services will be delivered principally via telephone, but other methods may also be available – Skype, face-to-face, email.  

This natural extension from general peer support and peer mentoring to peer coaching will allow us to continue to connect people in the SCI community with someone that has faced similar challenges and worked through them to successful outcomes with whom you can build a comfortable and trusted relationship, and often ongoing friendship.

We are continuing to develop this space, so look forward to what is to come! Please contact us if you interested in becoming a coach, as well as receiving support in these areas, [email protected]

Peer coaches aim to support and guide people around specific areas of life - Health, Employment...

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