Many UMHS patients want to help others facing what they have endured. Throughout the year, the PFCC program has been getting requests from volunteers who wanted to mentor in areas where no programs were established. At the same time, units and departments were asking how they could start their own formal peer mentor program.
“There are so many benefits to peer mentoring, from increased coping skills to easing isolation, that the idea of examining a UMHS-wide peer mentor program started really gaining some momentum this past summer,” said Celeste Castillo Lee. The PFCC program, along with the CVC Implantable Cardiac Device (ICD) Unit, Kidney Transplant, Liver Transplant, Head/Neck Surgery and Scleroderma programs, launched the pilot in July. The first collaborative UMHS peer mentor training took place Nov. 15.
Eleven former patients volunteered to participate as mentors in the pilot, representing CVC ICD, kidney transplant, liver transplant and scleroderma patients. The training combined general volunteer orientation to the health system, PFCC training, general peer mentor training and disease specific small group discussions.
Internationally recognized peer mentor consultant Erica Perry assisted in launching the pilot and led the general peer training, along with UMHS mentor Cedric Clark.
Goals of the pilot are to:
- develop and implement UMHS collaborative peer mentor training
- evaluate training sessions
- test Patient Activation Measures (PAM) as an evaluation tool for impact of peer mentor relationship on mentee self-activation
- establish staff time per referral and match over a three month period
- establish volunteer (peer) time over a three month period
- develop a tool kit for developing a peer mentor program at the local level using existing resources
Several volunteers have already begun to mentor to inpatients at University Hospital. To learn more about peer mentoring with UMHS, contact the PFCC Program UMHS-PFCC@med.umich.edu or call volunteer coordinator Melissa Cunningham at 734-764-5299.
A few of the reasons pilot participants gave for wanting to be a mentor:
“There is comfort in shared experience. I would like to provide the same comfort that I felt when I spoke with [a mentor] before my surgery.” – Jeanette McDonald, mentor for the CVC ICD Unit
“To try to help others avoid the feelings I experienced, or at least make them feel like they are not alone!!” – Sheri Hicks, mentor for the Scleroderma Program
“Now that I am retired, I would like to give back to the University of Michigan. Over the years, with all of my issues, I had wonderful care in this institution. I also feel that it is very important for transplant patients to visually see what they are working toward.” – Donna Wolfe – mentor for the Liver Transplant Program
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