PEER graduates new class

Ten residents of personal care homes in Clinton County completed five weeks of two-hour sessions on March 26 to become Clinton County’s latest “graduates” of the PEER (Pennsylvania’s Empowered Expert Residents) program.

The classes, which were hosted by Fulmer’s Personal Care Home, were taught by Michelle Koons, long term care ombudsman from STEP Office of Aging, assisted by Rick Wehler, who is a volunteer with the Ombudsman program.

Mary Frantz, another volunteer who will direct the PEER group going forward also assisted.

Presentations include information on resident rights, various roles of facility staff, tools – such as the “ladder of resolution” – that 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 identify them as PEERs who stand ready to help their fellow residents or facility staff.

The PEER program is unique to Pennsylvania. STEP Office of Aging ombudsmen began presenting the program in 2006 and each nursing home and most personal care homes in Lycoming and Clinton Counties have PEER.

There currently are 120 trained PEERs active in Lycoming and Clinton County facilities.

STEP Office of Aging is part of STEP’s Independent Living Pathway to Success.