Empowering Voices: Chester County Residents Graduate from Innovative PEER Program for Long-Term Care Advocacy

PEER Graduation. West Chester RehabSubmitted Image

WEST CHESTER, PA — Championing self-advocacy and enhancing the quality of life for those in long-term care, the West Chester Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center recently celebrated a group of residents who completed an empowering five-week PEER training program. The initiative, supported by the Pennsylvania Department of Aging’s Office of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman, aims to equip residents with the skills needed to effectively communicate their needs and work collaboratively with facility staff.

The program, known as PEER (Pennsylvania’s Empowered Expert Residents), underscores the importance of giving a voice to those often overlooked in society. By training residents to become advocates not only for themselves but for their peers, the initiative fosters an environment where concerns can be addressed promptly, ensuring a higher standard of care and well-being.

Chester County Ombudsmen Robert O’Mara and Jen Costello spearheaded the recognition ceremony, lauding the six volunteers who dedicated their time and effort to complete the training. “By encouraging a partnership between residents and staff of long-term care facilities, many resident concerns can be identified and solved before they become more intense issues,” Costello noted, highlighting the proactive nature of the PEER program.

Over the course of five weeks, participants engaged in two-hour sessions covering a range of topics designed to strengthen their advocacy skills. These included focusing on personal empowerment, building self-resolution skills, and understanding the broader implications of their advocacy under the banner “PEER the Sky’s the Limit.” A separate session for facility staff was also held to familiarize them with the PEER concept, aiming to cultivate a supportive environment for the program’s objectives.

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The graduation ceremony serves not just as a celebration of the participants’ accomplishments but also as a testament to the potential impact of empowered residents in improving the landscape of long-term care. With the knowledge and skills gained from the program, these newly minted PEER advocates are now better equipped to navigate the challenges that arise within their living environments, setting a precedent for positive change.

This innovative approach to long-term care advocacy represents a significant step forward in ensuring that the voices of residents are heard and respected. It highlights the critical role of education and empowerment in transforming care facilities into communities where every individual’s needs and concerns are acknowledged and addressed.

For those interested in becoming PEER advocates, the Chester County Department of Aging’s Long Term Care Ombudsman Program offers additional training opportunities.  For further information, reach out at 610-344-5004, ext. 1.  As the program continues to grow, it promises to enrich the lives of more residents by fostering a culture of mutual respect and collaboration between residents and care facility staff.

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