Canstar Community News - ONLINE EDITION

Looking for local volunteers to deliver peer support program

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Real understanding and help often come best from someone who is in the same
circumstances.


This truth is at the basis of the Get Better Together program. Developed at Stanford University, the program uses trained volunteers who are living with chronic diseases such as diabetes, arthritis and depression to deliver practical support and information to others with the same physical or mental ailments.


Program co-ordinator for the Southern Regional Health Authority Genevieve Lefebvre said the six-week program is meant to improve the lives of people with chronic diseases.


"They will learn to how to manage their own health," she said. For example, attendees will find out how to better deal with fatigue, which physical activities are appropriate, the side effects of medications, proper nutrition and how to communicate effectively with family, friends and health professionals.


"The most important thing is goal-setting," said Lefebvre.


While the free program is usually offered within a community once a year, in six 2.5-hour weekly sessions, Lefebvre said she needs volunteers to step forward so sessions can be run in more communities, including Elie, St. Eustache, St. Francois Xavier and Headingley.


"We’re really trying to bring it close to home for people," she said.


Volunteers will receive four days of free training. A training session for SRHA volunteers is planned for Sept. 25 and 26 and Oct. 2 and 3 at Southport in Portage la Prairie.


Jeannie and Lloyd Baker, of Carman, signed up as Get Better Together volunteers four years ago. Jeannie said they enjoy running the sessions and find them to be quite informal.
She added that typically, some attendees are already well-informed about their disease, but if they each learn at least one new way to better manage their daily life, it’s worth their time to participate.


For more information on Getting Better Together or to volunteer, contact Lefebvre at 204-870-0629 or online at: gbt@southernhealth.ca

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