The Houston Diabetes Peer Support Network delivers peer support to people living with diabetes and their caregivers.
Peer Support links people living with a chronic condition such as diabetes. People with a common illness are able to share knowledge and experiences – including some that many health workers do not have.
According to Peers for Progress, there are four functions of peer support:
1. Assistance in Daily Management:
Peer supporters use their own experiences with diet, physical activity and medicine adherence in helping people figure out how to manage diabetes in their daily lives. They can also help in identifying key resources, such as where to buy healthy foods or pleasant and convenient locations for exercise.
2. Social and Emotional Support:
Through empathetic listening and encouragement, peer supporters are an integral part of helping patients to cope with social or emotional barriers and to stay motivated to reach their goals.
3. Linkages to Clinical Care and Community Resources:
Peer supporters can help bridge the gap between the patients and health professionals and encourage individuals to seek out clinical and community resources when it is appropriate.
4. Ongoing support, extended over time:
Peer supporters successfully keep patients engaged by providing proactive, flexible, and continual long-term follow-up.
For people with diabetes and their caregivers, Peer Support offers multiple benefits:
Helps participants to face the reality of their diabetes diagnosis
Allows participants to share their concerns and emotions about diabetes
Provides a safe & confidential environment
Fosters an atmosphere of sharing & learning amongst peers
Peer Support in Cities Changing Diabetes Houston
Led by CORE Initiative, the Houston Diabetes Peer Support Network offers programs in different formats: Facebook, Zoom and in-person groups in the community.
The Peer Supporters are trained in a curriculum developed by the Peer Support Action Work Group consisting of people living with diabetes, Community Health Workers and healthcare providers. It follows recommendations set forth by Peers for Progress at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Gillings School of Public Health.