You are not alone. Sometimes all we need is someone who can listen and draw from their own experience as we face a new journey in life. If you or a family member have sustained a spinal cord injury, it's natural to have a lot of questions and experience a range of emotions. We've been there, and are here to help. Our SCIO Connect Peer Program matches people who are newly injured, and their family members, to people who have lived experience with a spinal cord injury, and who understand.
Peer Mentorship for People with SCI
During the COVID-19 pandemic, our peer mentors can’t meet up with others with SCI in person, as we normally would, but we can still connect by phone, email, video conferencing and through our VIP4SCI platform.
People who’ve ‘been there’ have tons of tips and tricks to share about day-to-day living and can also talk about the emotions associated with sustaining an SCI.
You will be matched with an individual who can share personal experiences to help you gain more confidence as you get more information on both the little details and the big picture of living with a spinal cord injury. The SCIO Connect Peer Mentor will also be able to introduce you to other organizations that can provide you with a wide range of assistance.
Things you and your Peer Mentor might talk about:
- Family relations
- Accessibility and housing
- Community resources
- Employment opportunities
Peer Mentorship for Family Members
If you are a family member of someone who has sustained an SCI, we can arrange for you to meet with a Family Peer Mentor who can relate to your experience and support you through the process and any challenges you’re facing.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, our Family Peer Mentors can’t meet up with other family members in person, as we normally would, but we can still connect by phone, email, video conferencing and, soon, through our VIP4SCI platform.
Peer Connections Workshops (in-person replaced with virtual events due to COVID-19)
Peer-to-peer experiences and understanding is a vital part of our monthly Peer Connections workshops across the province. We gather informally, often with an expert speaker, have a few snacks and share insights and solutions to issues related to living with a spinal cord injury. It’s fun and fundamentally helpful!
Everyone is welcome to attend each workshop – just let us know to expect you. Our topics and locations vary, and are driven by the specific needs of people living with spinal cord injury. Here are some of the workshop topics we’ve hosted recently (and will be coming round again, so don’t worry if you’ve missed one of interest):
- Are you sitting comfortably?
- Bowel & Bladder Care
- Adaptive Sports
- Vehicle Modification Fair
- Adaptive Cooking
- Community Reintegration
- Direct Funding Program
- Osteoporosis & Nutrition
We’d love to see you at the next virtual Peer Connections Workshop. Check out our upcoming dates and topics, and register to attend.View upcoming workshops
Connect with Us!
All Peer Program services are provide free to people in Ontario who are registered as an SCIO community member.
Looking for Peer or Family Peer Mentorship? Or thinking about training to become a valued Peer Mentor?
Toll free: 1-877-422-1112
Peer Program FAQ
How do you match people with SCI together with someone with SCI experience? Will my match have experienced the same situation as me? Where and how do we meet? How long do we stay matched? How do I become a peer support volunteer? What subjects might family members and their peer mentors cover? What subjects might someone with SCI and their peer mentors cover?
When a client expresses interest in being matched with a Peer Mentor, the Peer Program Co-ordinator considers information such as level of injury, age, gender, language of preference, etc. Secondary considerations focus on topics the client has requested more information about. This process enables successful peer matching.
Attention is paid to ensure that the client is matched with volunteer mentors with similar situations and experience. On most occasions we are successful, however, every situation is unique, and the matches are made to be as close as possible.
A peer support request comes at different point in a person’s journey. Many requests come in when individuals are still in rehab, others come when individuals are back home or in the community. The frequency, duration of meetings and locations are decided upon by the client and mentor independently. Mentors are also sometimes open to meeting over the phone or online if requested.
The peer match stays intact if the client is working towards active goals and has inquiries, typically two years post-injury. It is also possible that the goals change. For example, someone may first be interested in topics such as bowel and bladder, or sexual function, and their goal later graduates to wheelchair maintenance or employment. It is not uncommon to have clients sign back on for peer support years after ending their client status with SCIO.
If you are interested in volunteering as a Peer Mentor – either as a family member or a person with SCI – we encourage you to contact your local Peer Program Co-ordinators. We are here to assist you in our simple process of registering, training and successfully volunteering.
Family members of someone who sustains a spinal cord injury can find a great deal of support, information and relief through peer support. They can talk with someone who has found ways to deal with similar physical, emotional and financial challenges. Some of the subjects a family member and their family peer mentor may discuss include personal care issues, how to relate to medical professionals, community resources, and the daily issues that come up unexpectedly.
A diverse range of subjects is covered between someone with an SCI and their Peer Support Mentor, including self-care (bowel and bladder), sexuality, transportation, housing, assistive devices/equipment, employment parenting, recreation and leisure. We’ve heard from many on both sides of the equation that peer support relationships are like none other. There’s a bond through understanding and shared experiences, which leads to clarity and solutions.
How do you match people with SCI together with someone with SCI experience?
Will my match have experienced the same situation as me?
Where and how do we meet?
How long do we stay matched?
How do I become a peer support volunteer?
What subjects might family members and their peer mentors cover?
What subjects might someone with SCI and their peer mentors cover?