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Grant to launch nationwide peer-mentoring network and aid patients’ transition to home

March 12, 2018

Craig believes the measure of success does not lie strictly within the months of intensive inpatient rehabilitation services but, more importantly, the quality of life of our Craig graduates in the years following their injury.

Over the last year, clinical departments conducted a small study to assess the discharge processes and patient and family preparedness upon the transition to home. Skilled clinicians went home with ten patients who were considered “high risk” due to a variety of issues including severity of their injury, discharge environment, family challenges, equipment issues, and cognitive challenges. These staff members learned a tremendous amount of information through this process and have utilized this data to start focusing on program improvement within our current system of care.

Clinicians realized that many new graduates hunger for connection with someone who has “been there.” There is a need for patients, family members, and caregivers to interact with peer mentors who share their experiences and help form connections and friendships back home. Peer mentors can have a positive impact on depression, social isolation, and secondary medical conditions as well as assist with employment, education, and re-integration into society.

Currently, Craig has a small peer mentor program that is only designed to support patients during their inpatient stay at Craig. With recent funding from the Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation of Colorado, Craig will launch the Peer Mentor Soft Landing Program, a three-year pilot project.

The $514,170 grant will allow Craig to evaluate the Soft Landing program initiatives already implemented and will launch a nationwide peer mentorship program.

With the grant funding, Craig will hire two full-time employees to serve as the “Peer Mentor Soft Landing Team” who will work with high-risk discharging patients and grads: a peer mentor coordinator and a therapeutic recreational specialist.

The peer mentor coordinator will work with the many Craig alumni throughout the nation to recruit mentors and match them with discharging patients in their own area.

Inpatient clinicians will refer appropriate discharging patients to the team. The team will then work with each patient to provide support during the first six months after discharge. This support may include matching the patient with a mentor, sending the therapeutic recreation therapist home with the patient immediately at discharge or sending the therapist to the patient’s hometown after a period of time to help connect the patient with resources in his or her own area. The team will stay in weekly or bi-weekly contact with the patient using Skype.

The grant funding will allow the team to serve 63 patients during the initial trial period of the program. The success of the program will be evaluated by Craig’s research department through a variety of surveys and assessment tools for both the patient and caregivers. Should the pilot project prove successful, the Hospital will fund the program beyond the scope of the grant.

“Rehab at Craig is just as much about education as it is about physical medicine,” says Mike Fordyce, president and CEO. “Our current patients have so much to learn from our Craig grads, and this program will help connect them.”