Peer support is not about giving lessons to others; it is about sharing experiences and learning from each other in a comfortable and informal environment.

Peer support is an important form of social support that focuses on individuals providing first hand knowledge and wisdom to each other from their own practical experiences. Everyday more than 5000 people are starting their first day in a caring role for a loved one. Coming together with individuals with similar experiences can allow for a wealth of information to be exchanged through collective wisdom and experiences. The opportunity to converse with credible people in a similar situation should never be passed up as they are able to relate with you and understand exactly what you may be going through. These helpful people are not obliged to help you, they want to help as much as they can of their own good will.

Peer support is not about giving lessons to others,
it is about sharing experiences

Peer support is not about giving lessons to others, it is about sharing experiences and learning from them in a comfortable and informal environment in which individuals can mutually trust one another. If you are currently looking for a quick and easy tool to communicate with others to receive or provide peer support then head over to the Northside Forums to discuss caring with like minded individuals or to just let off some steam.

Practical Peer Support

Having someone share their own solutions, tips and tricks to problems that may currently impact on your ability to care for your loved one can really help relieve some stress and free up some time. Peer support is not only for people new to caring, there is always something new for us to learn. Peer support can provide you with great helpful tips that one carer has been utilising for years that might have never occurred to you. For example, you might hear a great story from a fellow carer about how they have helped their loved one who has difficulty gripping a pen by drilling a hole in a tennis ball and putting a pen through the hole. This is an innovative method to make writing with a weak or shaky grip much easier and more comfortable that can only come from first hand experience.

People who have spent many years in a caring role will have obviously developed their own methodology to being an effective carer which they can share with you to make your own methods better where necessary. Developing new and effective shortcuts to everyday caring can easily create space for more free time for yourself to relax. Peer support can even provide much needed financial support by comparing services and products between individuals who have gone down different routes for the same issues. Discussing caregiving services and respite programs that might interest you with people who have experienced them can give much needed insight.

Emotional Peer Support

Peer support not only provides useful practical advice but can help you emotionally as you hear of how others have overcome difficult situations that you also may have struggled with. It can allow you to vent your concerns and stresses with people that have likely felt the same way that can help you with emotional support. Just having that person you can talk to that has “been there and done that” can really help shed some light on a situation and give you a head start from their experiences. Having knowledgeable individuals provide encouragement and reassurance as empathetic listeners can really help to vent stress and allow you to cope with a situation you may otherwise not have. This emotional support is extremely important in maintaining a positive well-being by reducing anxiety, stress and depression. As a form of social support, peer support also gives everyone an opportunity to participate in social events while sharing their stories to reduce social isolation that may arise from an intense caregiving role.

Where to Find Peer Support

Peer support can be found across all different forms of media, from telephone based peer groups to face to face peer coaching. In this day and age it is surprisingly easy to find peer support over the internet with the many different forums and online support groups that are available. These forums and groups can help you ask the questions you want and receive the answers you need in a comfortable and informal context. We are happy to announce that Northside has recently come out with a brand new online forum specifically centered around peer support and caregiving. Head on over to our  forum now to share your stories and wisdom around caring for your loved one and to read the experiences of others in a similar situation.  There are many online tools that provide peer support and bring carers together such as the two small Reddit Communities Caregiving and Caregiversupport which provide unrestricted outlets between carers. Northside also provides respite opportunities that can give you the much needed break and free time required to socialise and seek out peer support.

By John Jeffery

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