A. Haufler, J. McKinley, S. Bettridge, K. Boyd, D. Friesen, J. Friesen
In November 2014, EPION hosted a Family Think Tank that focused on the family work that occurs in EPI programs. One of the prominent themes that emerged from the Think Tank was the idea of developing a “buddy system” in which family members of an individual with psychosis could interact with other family members who had a similar experience. Although Peer Support is highly valued in EPI services and is embedded in many programs across the province, this type of support has often been provided from one service recipient to another rather than to family members. The implementation of a volunteer-based Family Peer Support Project was viewed as a new and creative way to expand the nature of support services available to families and to offer a qualitatively different type of support than that provided by Family Workers. It was also viewed as an opportunity to impart the benefits that are inherent in peer support to the families in our service including a sense of shared understanding and the installation of hope.
This presentation seeks to outline the process of developing a Family Peer Support Project in which family members are introduced to volunteer family members with lived experience. The presentation includes various aspects of implementation including: drafting a proposal, developing policies and procedures and developing manuals and training materials. It also includes input from the Family Peer Volunteers, an overview of the project in the early stages of implementation and an evaluation of the project at this stage in its development.