Lessons learned on peer support during COVID-19

While the COVID-19 pandemic has posed life-changing threats and challenges, there were many lessons learned about peer support.

To learn more so that we can apply the knowledge for Queenslanders and others, Diabetes Victoria Peer Support organisers have outlined their experience in the most locked down state in Australia.

A virtual embrace

Diabetes Victoria Peer Support program used the situation to connect with consumers virtually. This had never been fully embraced within the program before.

Virtual connection was tested through a series of online Zoom webinar training sessions for conveners of support groups. While there were many benefits using Zoom to engage with conveners, there were also unique challenges.

Tailor to consumer needs

Many conveners did not have the digital skillset or internet access to replace face-to-face connection. Peer support during Covid became impossible for some.

Many conveners were challenged to adapt to new modes of peer support connection (online and over the phone).

The resounding learning from this process was that variety in program offering, tailored to consumer needs, is essential to connect people of varying ages and computer skills successfully.

Online training options

During this period of rapid change, providing online, facilitated training options were needed. The capacity to run a face-to-face version later was strongly preferred.

Peer support staff brought in experts from several fields including social work, the Diabetes Victoria Communications & Media department, and a health literacy speaker to run three webinars.

Additional accredited training was provided by Lifeline, a leading agency in mental health and wellbeing.

Read more about Diabetes Victoria’s recent peer support efforts and outcomes here.

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