Because peer support has been rated as the most important factor in psychological recovery from burn trauma, trained volunteers return to the inpatient setting as well as outpatient settings to offer their presence and support. Peer supporters work beside the professional Aftercare staff as well as the Department of Volunteer Services at UNC Health Care to enhance what the Burn Team does on an individual basis.
At times patients staying at the Burn Center may benefit from talking with others who have had similar experiences and types of injuries. Peer supporters provide a listening ear and a sense of hope for the patient and their loved ones. They do not offer medical advice or information.
Peer support in neighborhoods can also provide patients with encouragement to re-engage in work, school, church, and other areas of life.
Although burn injuries are physically and emotionally traumatizing and have potential for long lasting effects, peer supporters can motivate burn patients by showing "it can be done."
Survivors Offering Assistance in Recovery (SOAR)
In 2001, the Burn Center was one of the first six hospitals across the country to implement the SOAR training program. Since then, the Aftercare staff has continued to train burn survivors as peer supporters. The Phoenix Society designed SOAR to prepare burn survivors and family volunteers to offer one-on-one support to other burn survivors and their loved ones. The Burn Center staff understands the importance of aftercare support and has also been trained in the program. Peer supporters work with the staff and visit the center as well as offer community-based support.
Peer support is a win-win situation for all involved. Many people who successfully recover from a burn injury can find purpose by helping others see themselves as burn survivors.
If you are interested in peer support or becoming a trained peer supporter, please contact:
Shirley Massey, MDiv
Coordinator of Adult Aftercare/Spiritual Support for Burn Survivors
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