Ten residents of long term care in Lycoming County completed five weeks of two hour sessions on July 29 to become Lycoming County's latest "graduates" of the PEER (Pennsylvania's Empowered Expert Residents) Program.
The classes, which were hosted by Susquehanna Health Skilled Nursing and Rehab in Muncy, were taught by Michelle Koons, long term care ombudsman from STEP Office of Aging, assisted by Rick Wehler and David Hitesman, who are volunteers with the ombudsman program.
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.
PEER graduates are shown, front row from left, Karen Seals and Lois Cain, Susquehanna Health Skilled Nursing and Rehab; Jeanne Fraser and Lewis Folk, Wolf Run Village; and Mary Tokarz, Susquehanna Health Skilled Nursing. Second row from left, are Ted Richardson, Wolf Run Village; Tom Fox, Susquehanna Health Skilled Nursing; and Joanne Hostetler, Jean Bailey and Lynette Harris, Wolf Run Village.
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. Lycoming County Ombudsmen began presenting the program in 2006 and each nursing home and personal care home in the county have PEER.
There are currently 123 trained PEERs active in Lycoming and Clinton County facilities. STEP Office of Aging is part of STEP's Independent Living Pathway to Success.