Pennsylvania’s Empowered Expert Residents (PEER) graduates new class

Ten residents of long-term care in Lycoming County completed five weeks of two-hour sessions on Dec. 4, to become Lycoming County’s latest graduates of the Pennsylvania’s Empowered Expert Residents (PEER ) program.

The classes, which were hosted by Sycamore Manor, were taught by Michelle Koons, long-term care ombudsman from STEP Office of Aging, assisted by Kate Anderson, who is a volunteer with the ombudsman program.

Presentations include information on resident rights, various roles of facility staff, tools – such as the “ladder of resolution,” which can be used in solving problems, respecting confidentiality and the differences in people, and how to report abuse. Residents receive a badge and a door sign, which identifies them as PEERs who stand ready to help their fellow residents or facility staff. The PEER program is unique to Pennsylvania.

Lycoming County Ombudsmen began presenting the program in 2006 and each nursing home and personal care home in the county have PEER.

There currently are 115 trained PEERs active in Lycoming and Clinton County facilities. STEP Office of Aging is part of STEP’s Independent Living Pathway to Success.