RBC Pathway to Peers
The RBC Pathway to Peers (P2P) program is focused on supporting young adults aged 16 to 29 years who seek care at Mount Sinai Hospital’s emergency department (ED) for mental health, substance use and/or chronic health issues. The program’s peer support workers are available up to 10 hours per day, seven days a week, collaborating with the clinical team to help youth navigate the health-care system. They provide in-person, real-time, emotional support, advocacy, and coping strategies to young adults during and after their ED visit. The RBC P2P support workers also use their lived experience and knowledge of available outpatient services to connect patients with community-based resources.
This past summer, the RBC P2P program hired a new RBC P2P Research Project Manager, Bice Amoroso, and three new part-time peer support workers: Chloe Chalmers, Mahfam Nikoo and Stef Figueiredo.
The new peer support workers completed our recently updated RBC P2P training and orientation sessions provided in partnership with Peer Support Canada. Our ally and certified peer support mentor, Allison Dunning (Director of Peer support Canada), facilitated group training sessions that were completed over four days. The curriculum was centered on the Peer Support Canada Code of Ethics, knowledge matrix and competencies. The new peer support workers also completed ED specific training which also involved one-on-one shadowing and training on multiple shifts with our experienced RBC P2P peer support workers and debriefing with the program manager. Subsequently, they also completed training in Naloxone kit distribution and Non-Violent Crisis Intervention to enhance their skills in the ED.
Our RBC P2P team are recognized as leaders and advocates for young adult patients with mental health and addictions problems within Sinai Health. Our peer support workers have presented at the hospital’s systemic basis and racism committee and the ED’s substance use committee. They have used their peer lens and lived experience to inform the development of specific in-situ ED simulation education modules for our ED staff. These simulations focus on mental health and addictions and have helped our staff to learn to better communicate with young people in crisis.
Our team continues to reach out to other community agencies servicing young adults to share information regarding the P2P model, and offer support to their young adult clients should they need to come to the ED. As community-based resources and organizations continue to change, the peer support workers play a vital role in reaching out community agencies and updating the P2P community resource list to provide up-to-date and directed resources to youth.
Within the broader health-care system, we have submitted abstracts to several local, provincial and national conferences and have delivered multiple presentations and workshops to date. These presentations have focused on how we conceived and implemented the RBC P2P program at Sinai Health. At the virtual 2023 META: PHI conference, the P2P team gave a talk entitled, “Peer support in the emergency department: An innovative role, complimenting care for young adults presenting with mental health and/or substance use”, which was well attended and received from the audience. Enthusiastically, the P2P team accepted an invitation on a panel for the Peer Support Insight Assembly in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan 2023. Dr. Bjug Borgundvaag and Jordyn Ethier discussed the benefits of peer support services in ED, and the advocacy work and support required to create a peer support service in ED. As with other such presentations, there was a great deal of interest in learning how to recreate a similar program at other hospitals.
In 2023, Dr. Borgundvaag and Dr. Shelley McLeod met with the Honorable Dr. Carolyn Bennett, Federal Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, to discuss our program and seek advice on how to partner with federal and provincial agencies to fund expansion of our program. Finally, in 2023 we obtained funding from The Slaight Family Foundation to expand our P2P program to a second hospital ED in the greater Toronto area. This next phase in the growth of our RBC P2P program will serve as a “proof of concept” to demonstrate it is possible to recreate this program at additional sites, in preparation for further expansion should funding become available.
Since its introduction in the Mount Sinai Hospital ED, the RBC P2P program has supported over 5,500 young adults. This program has enhanced services for youth and collaborative care in ED. The peer support workers create safe spaces for youth and help foster a sense of hope and recovery. We would like to thank the RBC Foundation for their generous ongoing support of this program.