RBC Pathway to Peers
The RBC Pathway to Peers (P2P) program helps young people between the ages of 16 to 29 years navigate the fast-paced and sometimes intimidating emergency department, providing comfort, care and information to those who need it most. Led by SREMI and in partnership with Stella’s Place, the program’s peer support workers are available seven days a week in the emergency department, collaborating with the healthcare team to assist young adults seeking care for mental health or substance use. The peers also assist patients by connecting them with community-based resources to support their long-term health.
Since the inception of the RBC P2P program in 2020, the feedback from emergency department staff and patients has been incredible. As part of its comprehensive evaluation, physicians and nurses have shared overwhelmingly positive feedback about its impact on patient care. In one of the evaluations an ED physician shared, “This Program is phenomenal! The peer support workers add an entirely new level of care for this population. They are able to discuss concerns that may not have come up, provide support and are truly representative of what it means to offer whole person care. I cannot thank the program enough!”
This year has been exciting as the program is expanding. Two exceptional part-time peer support workers joined the team, Bella Shulman and Jordyn Ethier, enabling the program to extend hours of coverage to evenings and weekends. In recognition of the program’s positive impact, clinical staff also asked for increased access to peers in the ED. Clinical staff can now call the RBC P2P worker directly through a secure hospital phone, can make electronic referrals to connect patients, and an after-hours referral form was created for telephone follow-up for when patients present when peers are not there. These connections were found to be huge success.
To broaden the awareness of the program, the P2P team also reached out to various community agencies and universities in the area, introducing them to the peer program in the ED. These efforts have increased awareness, and people are now coming into the ED asking to see the peer during their visit.
The RBC P2P team are recognized experts, advocates, and youth mental health champions within the broader hospital system. Christine Bradshaw, Yolanda Delmonte, Bella Shulman and Jordyn Ethier were invited to join the systemic bias and racism committee at Sinai Health, bringing a youth perspective to help recognize bias, reduce barriers and ensure inclusive care for all patients. They also participated in simulation training and orientation sessions pertaining to LGBTQ2S+ patients. These sessions simulate barriers that young LGBTQ2S+ patients face prior to and during an ED visit so that Sinai Health’s team, including peer support workers, can ensure inclusive and accommodating care in the department.
The P2P team also submitted abstracts to local, provincial and national conferences and has delivered five presentations and workshops to date. These abstracts presented information on how the RBC P2P program was conceived and implemented at Sinai Health, and many requests for further information on how to replicate the program from several institutions across Canada have followed.
Since its introduction in the Mount Sinai Hospital Emergency Department, the RBC P2P program has supported 2131 young adults. There is a growing need for peer support for young adults, and this program has a bright future.
We would like to thank the RBC Foundation for their generous ongoing support of this program.