Peer support can take place in many different formats, from formal programs to less formal “networking.” The programs listed here are a sampling of what’s available.
A1C CHAMPIONS PROGRAM
Sponsored by sanofi-aventis US, the A1C Champions Program is a patient-led approach to diabetes education. People with diabetes who qualify to act as A1C Champions receive training in delivering motivational talks about self-management. They then conduct presentations for others with diabetes, their families, and friends.
CHILDREN WITH DIABETES FAMILY SUPPORT NETWORK
The Family Support Network is a database of parents, children, teens, adults, relatives, and friends who are willing to exchange mail or e-mail about diabetes, babysit, help out college kids, and meet newly diagnosed families. Participants are volunteers and receive no formal training in mentoring or offering support.
DIABETES HANDS FOUNDATION
The Diabetes Hands Foundation is a nonprofit organization focused on connecting people touched by diabetes and raising diabetes awareness. Its most visible projects so far include the social networking sites TuDiabetes.org and the Spanish-language EsTuDiabetes.org. The foundation also coordinates the efforts of DHF Ambassadors, volunteers who lead groups, distribute awareness materials, and identify local educational needs.
A Global Network Member of Peers for Progress (see below), Diabetes Sisters provides peer support and education through an online community and a Diabetes Buddy Program, which matches up women of similar age who have the same type of diabetes. Buddies are asked to commit to at least six weeks of at least weekly communication with their partner, to discuss a list of six suggested questions, and then to complete a survey about the experience.
DIABUDDIES MENTOR PROGRAM
This program for children and adults of all ages with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes matches up mentors and those seeking a mentor based on age, gender, type of diabetes, and other considerations. All mentors are certified through a training workshop led by DiaBuddies/Behavioral Diabetes Institute staff. Supervision meetings are held with the DiaBuddies and Behavioral Diabetes Institute clinical psychologists to ensure that the mentorship is successful and progressive. Note that all training workshops and supervision meetings are held in San Diego, California.
PEERS FOR PROGRESS
Peers for Progress is a program of the American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation with the mission of evaluating, demonstrating, and promoting peer support for diabetes management around the world. Its Web site provides resources and information for organizations wishing to start a peer support program.
Project Dulce is a diabetes care and education program based in San Diego county. Its approach to care is based on a nurse-led medical team, consisting of an RN/CDE (Certified Diabetes Educator), medical assistant, and dietitian, who work in collaboration with a person’s primary-care provider. The program also trains peer educators to provide diabetes self-management education and support to others.