Over the past year, HIV Community Link has been laying the groundwork to implement an HIV Peer Support Program, researching the most promising practices and outcomes of peer run programs across Canada and the United States. Currently, peer programs are being highlighted and leading the way in most promising best practices, client-centred trauma informed care and, finding a valuable place in the cascade of care for HIV and hepatitis C. Integrating peer support uniquely tailored to the specific needs of the HIV community in Calgary, this is our goal.
So far, a great deal of research, fundraising and preliminary planning by many folks in our organization has been done to ensure a solid, supple entry into the waters of peer support programming. Yes folks, it is really happening – and we are diving in with the hiring and training 2 part time honoraria Peer Navigators, 2 Group Facilitators and a 3 – 5 person Peer Advisory Committee.
The Advisory Committee will be part of the driving vision behind the Peer Support Program. The committee will provide input, ideas, feedback and advisory consultation to the Peer Program, group facilitation and peer navigation services. Committee members will bring their personal experience and knowledge of peer support programs, as well as a lived understanding of the issues directly affecting the HIV community in Calgary. This Committee will help the Peer Program navigate the development of peer support services – an essential component of the overall success of the program. If you are living with HIV, interested in committee work and believe in the benefits of peer support, please consider joining us in the foundations of building an outstanding program in Calgary.
Peer navigation has consistently been recognized both nationally and internationally as an integral part of client-centred care and recently in Canada has made significant strides in both community and clinical settings. Living with HIV has changed. No longer a death sentence, the science and medications are successfully treating HIV and deeming it a “manageable chronic condition”. This is brilliant news! However, the stigma of living with HIV has a long way to go to catch up.
Peer navigation can be an instrumental missing piece of a person’s health care team to help reduce the stigma surrounding a new diagnosis, and assist HIV positive individuals reengaging in their care to live a healthy and active life. Peer Navigators are trained on health issues surrounding HIV/HCV, self-care strategies, treatment and medication adherence strategies, disclosure, legal rights and responsibilities, cultural competency, boundaries, resiliency, listening and communications skills, as well as ongoing trainings to ensure the latest information on HIV is part of a Peer Navigator’s scope of practice.
The Peer Support Program will include and offer extensive free training, taught by experts in their field, both living with HIV and supporting those who do. Some of these trainings will be open to the HIV community at large, as many of the topics covered lend well to life skills in multiple capacities. Stay tuned for further information regarding these free training/workshop sessions and how you can sign up, or be pro-active and contact myself directly expressing your interest in the training alone and I will make sure you get the information as soon as we have it confirmed. We anticipate these spaces will fill up quickly, so don’t hesitate to be in touch!
Peer Program Coordinator
HIV Community Link
Phone: (403) 508-2500 Ext. 106