Programming Connection

Peer-to-Peer Program 

Regina Qu'Appelle Health Region
Saskatchewan
2014

What is the program?

The Peer-to-Peer Program is a crucial way that the Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region is trying to improve health outcomes for people living with HIV. The program pairs people living with HIV who have trouble remaining engaged in care with peer mentors who also live with HIV. The goal of the program is to use the lived experience of peers to increase the engagement and retention in healthcare of people living with HIV.

Since the program was established in May 2012, the focus has been to build the capacity of mentors, to determine how best to serve the needs of clients (known as mentees) and to provide tailored support to people in need. During the first 15 months of its existence, the program engaged nine peer mentors, received 29 referrals and made 21 peer matches.

Mentors provide many of the same services as other support workers, with the added benefit that they have lived experience of being diagnosed with HIV, accessing healthcare and starting treatment. Mentors provide non-judgemental phone and in-person support, referrals, peer counselling, accompaniment services and advocacy as needed. The program’s strength is its flexibility, which allows peer mentors and their mentees to meet as frequently or infrequently as required to provide the type of support mentees need most.

As of January 2014, the Peer-to-Peer Program uses an approach that allows mentors and mentees to meet when and where it is convenient and comfortable for them to do so, from Monday to Friday between 8 am and 4:30 pm. In November 2013, the program started offering drop-in services at the Four Directions Primary Health Care Clinic.