Hospitalization following a traumatic injury can be filled with uncertainty, pain, anxiety and frustration. The TSN offers trauma patients an opportunity to talk with a trained peer visitor who can help the newly injured person through this difficult time and serve as a positive role model for the future. Peer visitation programs serve to reduce the sense of isolation common to new experiences, and replace it with a sense of belonging and of being understood.
Since they have all lived through the trauma recovery experience, including the rescue scene, hospitalization, rehabilitation, and returning home, TSN peer visitors understand the concerns of new trauma patients on a deeply personal level. When a new trauma patient talks about his or her anxieties regarding the recovery ahead or the frustrations of dealing with the medical system, the TSN peer visitor can offer understanding and some tips for getting through the day. Most important, they are there to listen, address concerns and answer questions.
What are the benefits of talking with a peer visitor?
Trauma can be an isolating experience. In addition to being injured and in pain, patients surviving a trauma are thrust unexpectedly into a world with strange rules, systems, and people. Trauma alters all routines, roles, and relationships, and can leave the patient lost and bewildered. Few trauma survivors have friends or family who share their experience, so while a wife, father, daughter or nurse may be at the bedside, many patients continue to feel quite alone.
TSN visitors have survived those experiences and have gained wisdom and perspective during their recovery. They are in a unique position to normalize the trauma patient’s experience, and to offer hope and perspective. Hearing, “Hang in there - it’ll get easier,” sounds different coming from another survivor than from, say, a sister. A peer visitor understands feeling overwhelmed and having feelings of despair; his or her presence also demonstrates hope and resilience.
Some benefits and goals of talking with a peer visitor include:
- Sharing your experience with someone who can directly relate to what you are going through
- Learning some practical tips on moving forward
- Receiving encouragement and support
- Getting answers to questions from the perspective of someone who’s ‘been there’
- Feeling less anxious, afraid and alone
Who are peer visitors?
TSN peer visitors have experienced a traumatic injury, such as a car crash, fall, gunshot wound or work related injury and have made a successful adaptation to their life after injury. All TSN peer visitors have completed a training program that teaches them how to be sensitive listeners, communicators and have a better understanding of the recovery process following serious injury. Peer visitors are not professional counselors, therapists or advisors (medical, legal, or otherwise). They volunteer their time because they want to help others like themselves.
How do I request a visit?
If you are interested in getting together with a TSN peer visitor, you should contact your TSN Coordinator who can arrange for a peer visit. If you leave the hospital before a visit can be arranged, you may request that a peer visitor connect with you in rehabilitation or after discharge.
How do I become a peer visitor?
If you have experienced a traumatic injury and would like to become a peer visitor, please register and fill out our volunteer request form or contact your trauma center's TSN Coordinator directly. Remember, to become a peer visitor you will have to participate in introductory training to make sure you are ready to help others and develop the skills to make you the best peer visitor possible.