Monday, October 8, 2012

Peers Fostering Hope

May 5/2012

Over the past few years I have volunteered with Transition Improvement for Continuity of Care, or TICC, a collaboration of the Ontario Stroke System, North & East GTA Stroke Network, South East Toronto Stroke Network, Toronto West Stroke Network and March of Dimes Canada. TICC is working to improve the continuum of care for stroke survivors in the Greater Toronto Area.I have assisted in developing a program called Peers Fostering Hope for TICC and am very excited to announce we have now gone into the implementation stage.

Peers Fostering Hope is a program that helps persons living with stroke, and their family, friends and caregivers. The goal is to help people get back to life in their communities after a stroke. This is achieved through the efforts of trained peers.

Peers are people who have had a stroke that are well into their recovery, or are family, friends or caregivers of a person with stroke. They are trained to visit people who have just had a stroke, or their family, friends and caregivers. Peers help them with their recovery by providing hope, optimism, encouragement, and support.  Peer support will be available throughout the recovery journey in the form of one-to-one visits in acute care and rehabilitation and through peer support groups available in the community.

We know from research and experience that engaging in conversations with others who share a similar experience can profoundly affect the course of recovery by initiating optimism and inquiry into new possibilities for the future[1]. Peer support that begins in acute care has been shown to positively impact the quality of life for those living with stroke and their caregivers, reduce social isolation, gain understanding of stroke recovery, enhance their ability to cope, and provide motivation and hope1,[2],[3].

Peers Fostering Hope is one of three initiatives that are part of the Transition Improvement for Continuity of Care Tri-Regional project, and is deeply based on two of its foundational principles:  optimistic care and relational strength. 

We know that transition points are particularly critical for people with stroke – transition from place to place, or from one phase of recovery to another.  Stronger relationships across the system help create a more seamless experience.  Because peers have experienced the system, they are in a position to share what people with stroke and/or caregiver can expect in recovery.

Optimistic care, means setting goals with people with stroke that are meaningful and that give them hope; means rather than focussing on managing expectations, reaching for the best possible outcome and finding comfort in the not knowing what the outcome might be.

**Taken From the Final Implementation Package for Peers Fostering Hope a
Part of the Transition Improvement for Continuity of Care Initiative

[1] Stroke Recovery Canada®, March of Dimes Canada, Health Recovery Social Networks: Exploring the experiences of participants in stroke recovery peer support groups, 2009

[2] Morris R, Morris P. (2012) Participants' experiences of hospital-based peer support groups for stroke patients and carers, Disabil Rehabil. ;34(4):347-54.

[3] Stewart MJ, Doble S, Hart G, Langille L, MacPherson K. (1998) Peer visitor support for family caregivers of seniors with stroke. Can J Nurs Res. Summer;30(2):87-117.


If you think that you would be interested in becoming a peer for persons living with or their families please read the following:

Peers Fostering Hope

Identification/Recruitment of Peer Visitors

Please share this information with any person with stroke, family member and/or caregiver that you feel might be interested in coming to an information session about becoming a Peer Visitor.


Peers Fostering Hope seeks to facilitate the reintegration and re-engagement of people living with stroke back into the community through hospital peer visiting.  To achieve this goal, screening criteria and regular orientation/training opportunities are necessary for those that are interested in becoming a peer.

We are looking to recruitment persons with stroke and caregivers to this unique program. 

Peer Visitor Screening Criteria
The following are general criteria to act as guidelines in determining the suitability of individuals interested in providing peer support:

-         Demonstrate competencies, abilities and be of suitable character required to undertake hospital visits.
-        Ability to undertake all peer support activities in a confidential and respectful manner.
-        An understanding of, and the need to at all times, avoid imposing religious and/or political beliefs on others
-        Ability/commitment to provide peer support for a minimum of 1 year 

Hospital Peer Visitors

Hospital Peer Visitors will consist of persons with stroke and caregivers.

Hospital Peer Visitors will successfully undertake all orientation, screening, police check and medical examination as required by hospital administration. Hospital Peer Visitors are considered volunteers of both the Hospital Auxiliary and Stroke Recovery Canada.
Peer Support Feedback & Monitoring 
Feedback and monitoring of peer support provided will be undertaken on an ongoing basis.  Dialogue with peers and hospital officials will occur on a regular basis.

Peer Visitors will be aware of, and involved in, feedback and monitoring processes being undertaken. 

Both positive feedback and areas of required modification will be shared with Peer Visitors in a timely fashion.  


Peer Visitors will take part in an education program designated by Peers Fostering Hope-Stroke Recovery Canada.
A Certificate of Participation will be provided upon successful completion of the education sessions.

Orientation to Peers Fostering Hope
For more information on Peers Fostering Hope or to volunteer with peer visits, please contact Gemma Wotcky at 1-800-263-3463 extension 7207 or email at