Programming Connection

Peer-to-Peer Program 

Regina Qu'Appelle Health Region
Saskatchewan
2014

Quick Facts

Goal (immediate)

To support people newly diagnosed with HIV, those who have been lost to care or those needing tailored support to re-engage in care

Goal (ultimate)

To improve linkage to, engagement in and retention in healthcare for people living with HIV to improve client health outcomes and reduce onward transmission of HIV

Population

People living with HIV

Participants

People living with HIV/AIDS needing extra support to engage in and remain in care

Type of Program

Support

Setting

Community

Required Resources
  1. Program coordinator
  2. One peer mentor for every one to five mentees
Scope and Duration

Seven mentors, 20 mentees. Ongoing.

Date Started

2012

Region

Saskatchewan

Recruitment

Referrals from Infectious Diseases Clinic, public health nurses, social workers and community-based organizations.

Challenges
  1. Ongoing funding. Short-term funding contracts for the Peer-to-Peer Program make it difficult to plan for the long term, including finding a permanent space and   conducting a program evaluation.
  2. Space. While the flexibility of the program is one of its strengths, having a dedicated space would allow mentors to expand their services to meet mentees on a drop-in basis. This would improve access for clients who may not be able to keep appointments or need crisis support.
  3. Mentor capacity. The Peer-to-Peer Program is in its infancy, and mentors continue to need a lot of training and support. This limits the number of mentor/mentee matches the program can facilitate. HoweoSignificant growth has been observed, however, with mentors learning to support each other and take on more planning responsibility.
  4. Building trust. It takes time to build trust between mentors and mentees because many mentees come to the program with previous experiences of trauma and abuse. Mentors and the program coordinator work diligently with mentees to build trust by following up and offering non-judgemental support.
  5. Mentor-clinician relationship. The dual role of patient and mentor that some mentors play can be a challenge for both mentors and clinicians. One strategy to overcome this challenge has been for the program coordinator to build lines of communication between the Peer-to-Peer Program and clinicians so that concerns on both sides are addressed. It is also hoped that the ongoing presence of mentors at the Four Directions Primary Health Care Clinic will help both mentors and clinicians to view mentors as professionals.
  6. Communications limitations. Mentors may have limited talk and text functions on their personal cellphone plans. This may limit mentor and mentee contact. One solution being explored is to cover the cost of limited talk and unlimited text functions on mentor cellphone plans.
Evaluation

The Peer-to-Peer Program has not been formally evaluated. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that the program is having an impact. Most mentees paired with a mentor are engaged in care and regularly attend their appointments. In addition, the program has observed an increased number of referrals for new mentors and mentees and an increased number of new matches and has expanded services to the Four Directions Primary Health Care Clinic. A logic model has been drafted and the future evaluation of the program will be based on this framework.