The value of Peer Support

It was absolutely amazing! She was great, we are a very similar style of person and I could relate to her. I was able to ask a million questions. So I wanted to say a huge thank you for arranging that. It’s a very good service!

I just wanted to talk to someone who been through a transplant.

It was so reassuring talking to someone who had been there someone who could answer lots of questions I felt I couldn’t ask my specialist like having the right gear in the suitcase.

This is just some of the feedback from our first clients which demonstrates the value of  peer support and how worthwhile this programme/service is.  Peer support works because it’s a lived experience; people are able to give each other something medical people may not have - shared life experience. Another client had never talked to anyone about becoming a recipient until he spoke to our peer support person.

The programme was launched in June (I think it was June) this year as part of the Counties Manukau DHB’s ‘Give a Kidney Change a Life’ research project that aims to increase the number of potential donors offering live kidneys.

Peer Support Volunteers who are a mixture of donors and recipients completed a training programme to enable them to;

  • give accurate information about donating and receiving a kidney
  • explain to potential donors how they can offer a kidney
  • support and encourage people as they learn and think about live kidney donation and make informed decisions
  • support live kidney donors through the process of donating a kidney and support people who are thinking about having a live kidney transplant.

The service complements medical services (peer support volunteers do not offer medical advice).

People thinking about live kidney donation or having a live kidney transplant are referred to the Programme Manager who puts him or her in touch with the most suitable peer support person who then plans and sets up meetings or phone conversations. There is no limit to the number of contacts.

The peer support person can share personal experiences in an honest but supportive manner while maintaining volunteer boundaries. They are sensitive to people’s cultures and values while maintaining privacy and confidentiality at all times.

To date the programme/service has supported 7 clients some of whom are considering becoming a live donor or and others who are considering having a live kidney transplant.

Most clients have come from the Counties Manukau region although we have had one client from Tauranga plus enquiries from Hastings and Dunedin.

As Programme Manager and from all the feedback I’ve received I’m left in no doubt about the value of this service.

The fact that our peer support volunteers have had personal experiences means that they are able to understand clients in a way that is real and empathetic. Because of their own experiences they are able to make meaningful connections with clients.

The contribution of peer support volunteers helps dispel the myths associated with live donation and as such can assist with reducing the increasing number of people on the waiting list for a transplant.

If you or someone you know would like to join the peer support volunteer team please let me know.

Our long term goal is to make to service available throughout New Zealand.