Disabil Rehabil. 2021 Oct 18:1-9. doi: 10.1080/09638288.2021.1988735. Online ahead of print.
PURPOSE: Youth Facilitators (YFs) are peer service providers (SPs) with childhood-onset disabilities working in pediatric rehabilitation teams. This study explored the YF role focusing on what work YFs do, the perceived facilitators and challenges pertinent to the role integration process, and the evolution of the role over the study period.
METHODS: A longitudinal, qualitative case study approach was used to gather data over a total period of 14 months through interviews, focus groups, workload logs, and observations. Data were analyzed using the method of thematic analysis.
RESULTS: Two YFs, 23 SPs and two managers participated in the study. YFs’ work included independent consultation, resource provision, referral making, and program co-facilitation. Analysis produced two contrasting themes. When viewed as a representative of clients, YFs were considered bringing client perspectives to care, adding credibility to clinical services, and empowering clients and families through role modeling. However, when viewed as a professional SP, their expertise was questioned due to role unclarity, limited generalizability of lived experience, and organizational limitations.
CONCLUSIONS: Training tailored to local care contexts and organizational supports are needed to transform YFs’ experiential knowledge into experiential expertise. We propose strategies for optimal integration of peer providers into clinical care teams.Implications for rehabilitationAs peer service providers with lived experience of disabilities, Youth Facilitators (YFs) have the potential to benefit pediatric rehabilitation services by facilitating empowerment in clients and families as they navigate through life transitions.The YF scope of practice and training should be adapted to fit with individual clinical teams and local care contexts to help YFs establish their experiential expertise in interdisciplinary teams.Establishing YF’s core competencies (e.g., advocacy, coaching, and boundary setting skills) can help transform their experiential knowledge into experiential expertise.
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