One of the most monumental events to a person who has just undergone an amputation is meeting a person with limb loss who has successfully recovered and is back to living a productive and enjoyable life. Out of this was born the Peer Visitor ® Program. From the proven success of the Peer Visitor ® Program created by the Amputee Coalition of America, the ACC received the appropriate permissions from its American counterpart to import the training materials to Canada and translate them into French. This allowed the ACC to develop a national peer support network to assist Canadians recover and overcome the traumatic event of losing a limb. By creating a Canadian network of peer support, the Amputee Coalition of Canada provides persons with limb loss and their families the emotional support and information vital to successful reintegration into society and community. The Peer Visitor ® Program is designed to assist persons facing amputation or with limb loss help in their quest to resume productive and healthy lives.

The Peer Visitor ® Program is the first of its kind implemented in Canada and seeks to address the difficulty that informal and unstructured peers visits can have on those who have just under gone limb loss, especially those who have just entered the early rehabilitation phase when a person with a new amputation has no idea of what awaits them. By implementing a training program to certify peer visitors, the Amputee Coalition of Canada is able to ensure a minimum quality standard of its program as all peers are evaluated at the end of their training session and reports are received after each visit.

The training program, which also includes a trainer program with certification, covers topics such as:

  • How to behave during a visit
  • Understanding the role and limitations of being a Peer Visitor
  • What topics are safe, and which are not
  • When to refer someone for professional help
  • How to deal with difficult subjects, including religion, sex, suicide and others

The best possible outcome for support and understanding comes from a trained peer visitor who understands what it means to recover after amputation. The Peer Visitor® Program works with the goals and objectives of rehabilitation of an individual with limb loss and is complementary to the intentions of Canada’s healthcare professionals. Each training session is lead by certified trainers who have followed a two-day training program subsidized by the ACC and is normally a combination of a person with amputation (when possible) and a health care professional involved in care of persons with amputation. There are now (insert number) of trainers across Canada. The Peer Visitor ® Program consists of theory and role-playing that is based upon the current trends in adult education. Telephone peer visits have been conducted very successfully and have helped meet the challenge of covering Canada’s vast geographic territory.

The Amputee Coalition of Canada provides the Peer Visitor® Program in both English and French at no charge to individuals with limb loss as all costs for the program, training, training materials and manuals are covered by the Coalition. No other organization in Canada offers this program or a service of this nature. There are 230 trained Peer Visitors in various regions across Canada and more scheduled for training during 2011. These peer visitors enable the ACC to accommodate pertinent matches between the peer visitor and a new person with limb loss in order to have meaningful visits with appropriate age; sex; religion, level of amputation and cause of amputation when possible.



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