Independence Care System (ICS) Disability Program Director Elaine Castelluccio recently led a presentation on how to build peer support or mentoring programs for people with multiple sclerosis (MS) at the Annual Meeting of the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers (CMSC)—the premier educational conference for healthcare practitioners and researchers engaged in the field of MS.
Organized in 1986 under the direction of neurologists dedicated to the clinical care of MS, the CMSC, a multi-disciplinary organization, promotes sustained improvements in MS practice through clinical research, education, training, and targeted advocacy efforts.
Held at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle, this year’s event featured national and international experts in comprehensive care and research, advanced clinical courses and a mix of educational sessions to support the needs of multi-disciplinary learners.
Castelluccio’s presentation outlined the practical steps to create a program for people with MS.
She discussed the concept of peer mentoring—where an individual who is a “veteran” of a specific life experience helps another person cope with a similar life event. “Mentorship programs help to reduce the higher rates of depression, increased loneliness and risks for health complications found among people with MS,” Castelluccio said.
Castelluccio also highlighted specific aspects of fostering a program—including cost, activities, staffing, and resources—and emphasized the importance of an implementation plan that presents a clear vision, solid resources—both personnel and technology—a budget, and funding sources.
ICS’ Peer Mentoring Program
ICS’ Peer Mentoring Program, launched in 2017 and spearheaded by Castelluccio, addresses the needs of ICS members with spinal cord injuries (SCI) and MS by pairing them with mentors who have successfully adjusted to living with similar conditions.
Mentors support their “mentees” with compassion, offering guidance and knowledge gained through personal experience. Mentees are empowered to adjust to the challenges of their conditions, to find a path to maintain happiness, health and independence, and to be active in their own care and communities.
To view Castelluccio’s full presentation, click here.
For a look into the ICS Peer Mentoring Program, watch ICS’ latest video here.