Former patients helping the sick

FORMER mental health sufferers are giving current patients the benefit of their experience returning to health as a part of a mentoring program in place at the Bundaberg Hospital.

The Consumer Companion Program was developed after patients in acute mental health wards claimed their stay was often boring, lonely and isolating.

The patients also said it was difficult to find someone to talk to who could really understand how they were feeling.

Queensland Health executive director of mental health Aaron Groves said the former patients were given training and after a recruitment process employed as companions.

“They provide a welcome relief to the boredom and isolation experienced by patients by organising indoor and outdoor activities, or just talking and sharing their experiences,” he said.

“This helps keep the patients occupied and is a diversion from their worries while recovery is in progress.”

Dr Groves said all the companions must have personal experience with mental health issues and have to demonstrate they have recovered or are well on the road to recovery.

The companions work a minimum six-hour shift and their times are allocated according to the need of the ward and skills to match the companion.

Dr Groves said the companions were provided with mandatory group supervision and training on a regular basis.

They are also supervised on a regular basis.

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