Peer Support Information and Q&A
WESN at Kay’s Place has offered a Peer Support service to clients aged 55+ since 2000. In 2020, the Canadian Mental Health Commission recognized our program as providing a high quality of community-based support to older adults.
For the past 10 years, Alan has been training volunteers in the provision of Peer Support for WESN. After selecting a group of Peer Support volunteers, we provide 7 months of training. Modules include learning about human development, completing readings specific to Peer Support practice, written papers and perhaps most importantly, experiential learning and practice sessions with role plays and group discussion. In addition, volunteers obtain skills in the areas of:
- Gathering family history and conducting a genogram
- Active listening and asking open-ended questions
- Gaining familiarity with additional community resources
- Understanding the developmental life-cycle
- Creating a safe environment in order to address referral issues such as loss, change, acceptance, self-care, and referral resolution
For individuals experiencing more complex mental health concerns, WESN may not be the appropriate resource. In those situations, we would recommend consulting with professional counselling services that are better suited to the client’s needs.
After a client requests Peer Support, an intake is completed. Within two weeks or less, a meeting is arranged with the client, assigned volunteer and Program Manager before beginning the more formal service of support. Volunteers are supported with group and individual meetings to ensure there is professional guidance during the service.
Ultimately, the volunteer’s objective is to support clients to reach their own solutions to concerns they have expressed.
The feedback for Peer Support has been overwhelmingly positive. Clients have a rich and varied experience and report being comfortable discussing their concerns with another older adult.
Q: What kind of situations or people could benefit from Peer Support?
A: Many of our clients are referred to us because there has been a change that is difficult to reconcile. It could be a loss of a partner, a serious health concern, a problem with a family member, mild depression or anxiety that may be out of the ordinary.
Q: What happens during the intake meeting?
A: The intake allows the coordinator to meet with the client, gather relevant history, review the nature of the expressed concern and to ensure that our service is appropriate for their needs. The intake takes up to one hour and takes place at Kay’s Place in the Denman Mall.
Q: Are Peer Support volunteers professional therapists?
A: Peer Support volunteers come from a variety of educational backgrounds with extensive life experience, however, they are not necessarily professional therapists. All have had training in order to support clients in a specific manner.
Q: What can I expect in the first meeting between the Peer Support worker and myself?
A: Usually, the first session includes taking a client’s family history. This is recorded in the style of a family tree diagram. This serves as a “road map” of the client’s background and helps the worker understand the client more fully. Subsequent meetings focus on the referral reason and/or goals the client would like to achieve during the Peer Support process. We will create a safe and respectful environment during the time spent in session and it is important that the client participates as fully as possible.Throughout the process, a professional boundary is maintained between the client and their Peer Support volunteer. Sessions take place at Kay’s Place at times convenient for both the client and their Peer Support volunteer.
Q: How long does a session last?
A: Session length is one hour.
Q: Will my conversation be kept in confidence?
A: All clients will be asked to sign a consent form that describes confidentiality, which is the cornerstone of trust in the Peer Support relationship. There are exceptions to confidentiality, and this will be discussed during intake. The confidentiality form needs to be signed before sessions can start. Peer Support volunteers may share information with their supervisor, who may advise and provide additional guidance as sessions progress.
Q: Is there any cost to me?
A: Peer Support services are free of charge to members of the West End, Coal Harbour and Yaletown areas.
Q: What happens if after 10 sessions I need more time with my Peer Support worker?
A: If more time is needed to resolve your concern, your Peer Support worker will speak with their supervisor so that an arrangement can be made to have an extension of up to 3 sessions.
One of the supportive services provided at Kay’s Place is assistance with housing through our Housing Navigation expert, Susan.
The aim of this program is to provide compassionate, caring and culturally-conscious services to those persons in the West End, Coal Harbour and Yaletown area experiencing housing insecurity. Many of the people who come to our office are experiencing stress associated with their housing, and we understand how trying it can be. Worrying about having secure housing is one of the great stressors that we can experience. Our Housing Navigator will be able to help clients to utilize resources such as housing subsidies like SAFER, which can be daunting for some people to complete on their own.
If you are presently housed but are having difficulty with a “quiet loss of enjoyment” due to other tenants, or if your landlord is not providing adequate repair and/or maintenance, we can advise you on the processes to follow in accordance with provincial housing policies.
We also can provide support and direction should you receive an eviction notice and help with the necessary steps to follow.
Finally, finding housing within the West End, Coal Harbour and Yaletown catchments is what we do best.
To make an appointment, please contact Susan at [email protected] or call 604-669-7339.