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ID: 945

Type of submission: Oral

Conference track: Practice

Topics: Overdose Prevention and Management; Peer-Driven Treatment, Care and Harm Reduction

Presenting author: Rebecca Potter

Presenting author biography:

Rebecca Potter is a Registered Nurse with Ottawa Public Health's Site Needle and Syringe Program. Her work involves frontline service delivery in fixed, mobile, and outreach settings. In the past year, Rebecca has been a part of the development and implementation of a peer engagement and overdose prevention initiative.

Lessons from Engaging Peers in Overdose Prevention and Other Front Line Harm Reduction Service Delivery

Rebecca Potter, Jenna Bennett, Sue Latreille, Henry Maxwell, Aideen Reynolds

Issue: Increasing overdose risk from availability of potent synthetic opiates in Ottawa called for an urgent need to engage peers to expand access to naloxone. Best practices recommend peer involvement in harm reduction service delivery, however little is known about how to successfully engage peers. This presentation will share lessons from development of a Peer Educator program.

Setting: Ottawa Public Health (OPH)’s Site Needle and Syringe Program (Site Program) provides harm reduction and nursing services, including overdose prevention training and naloxone, through a fixed location, mobile van, and in partnership with community agencies. Since launching the program in 2012, 230 people have received overdose prevention training and a naloxone kit. More than 90 kits have been used to reverse overdoses, nearly one third reported within the past four months, illustrating a recent increase.

Project: To expand access to Naloxone, OPH’s Site Program invited members from Ottawa’s drug using community to apply to become Peer Educators to co-facilitate overdose and naloxone training.
Between December 2015 and May 2016, Peers co-facilitated 11 group training sessions in the community. Success with this initiative combined with Peer interest in front-line service delivery led to expansion of the Peer Educator role to work regular shifts in the Site Program’s fixed location where they provide harm reduction services including one-on-one Naloxone training.

Outcomes: Peer Educators have worked a combined total of 80 hours of front line service delivery. Program staff have noted the ease with which Peers establish rapport with clients and find appropriate opportunities for health teaching. Regular scheduled meetings enable Site Program staff to check in with the Peers to ensure adequate ongoing support. Peers report feeling valued members of the team and report personal benefit from the work they do. This initiative has led to other opportunities for peer involvement in the community.