Susan Houston, Director of Older Adult Services forPeninsula Family Service, wrote to us to elaborate on her organization’s Senior Peer Counseling program, after reading the recent blog post, “Healthy at Home“. Apparently, senior peer counseling is an innovative program, but not new! Here is what Susan has to say:
Because of the growing older adult population, programs like the senior peer counseling program can help meet the needs especially of those older adults who are shut in, lonely and isolated. The program has been in place for more than 27 years. This year, from July 2014 through March 2015, we served 502 clients and we had 113 active peer counselors. The program is so special because we are actually serving two populations, the “clients” who the peer counselors meet with on a weekly basis, and the peer counselors, who gather a wealth of information and new skills and have a built-in support system when they attend their supervision group. [note: senior peer counselors are trained and supervised volunteers age 60+; the volunteers are assigned an elderly senior, visit the senior each week to check in and be a good listener, and meet twice a month in a small group with a supervising Social Worker.]
Because both the client and the counselor are both older adults they may share some of the same life experiences which creates a bond between the two of them. We are so fortunate to have counselors from the targeted underserved older adult populations (Chinese, Filipino, Spanish-speaking and LGBT) to match the cultural needs of our clients.
Susan, thank you for adding to the discussion and sharing your thoughts!
Jackie Siminitus manages CareLinx social media communications.