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Support for patients with severe burn injuries

Support for patients with severe burn injuries

A new program developed by the Agency for Clinical Innovation (ACI) Statewide Burn Injury Service, which links patients with a burn injury admitted to hospital with a burn injury survivor for face to face, one on one social contact and support, was launched today.

The new program, called SHARE - Sharing Hope, Acceptance, Resilience and Experience - was developed with the help of burn survivor Frank Spiteri, a Milperra mechanic shockingly injured in a workplace welding explosion in 2007.

"I had burns to 71% of my body. I was in an induced coma for 92 days, in hospital for 11 months and in inpatient rehabilitation for 15 weeks. I didn’t get back to full time work for almost four years and along the way I had to learn to walk and to live again" says Frank.

"The pain of the burns was unendurable and the pain of the treatment needed for recovery was indescribable. Although I had the best care all the way, there were times when I hit the depths of despair – feeling depressed, angry and suicidal."

"Those are the times when support and encouragement from someone who has been through the experience could make all the difference, and that’s what the SHARE program is all about."

The Program is being rolled out at the acute adult burns units at Concord Repatriation General Hospital and Royal North Shore Hospital, as well as the Royal Rehabilitation Centre Sydney.

Peer support volunteers are supported by a social worker and provided with comprehensive training to prepare them for challenges like separating their own experience from that of the patient and managing the emotional impact of sharing their story.

Volunteers need to have had direct experience in recovering from a burn injury, be available for a minimum of two hours a month and participate in the recruitment and training program.

For more information on becoming a SHARE volunteer, please contact Janelle Tolley, SHARE Peer Support Project Officer, on +61 2 9464 4642 or janelle.tolley@aci.health.nsw.gov.au.

Expression of Interest to be a Peer Support Volunteer for S.H.A.R.E