S.H.A.R.E. Sharing hope, acceptance, resilience and experience-an overview of a burns peer support program and its benefits to its consumers

Dana Goennemann1, Anne Darton2

1 Royal North Shore Hospital, SW Department Building 30, Reserve Road St. Leonards NSW 2065 dana.goennemann@health.nsw.gov.au
2  N.S.W. Agency for Clinical Innovation, Statewide Burn Injury Service, Level 6, Clinical Services Building, Royal North Shore Hospital, Pacific Highway, St. Leonards, NSW, 2065 anne.darton@aci.health.nsw.gov.au

Sustaining a burn injury can be a life changing experience that requires intensive treatment and rehabilitation. This journey can affect a patient’s physical and emotional well-being and can create challenges when returning to their pre-injury life.  Managing functional and emotional changes and seeking community acceptance with body image is confronting. Speaking to another burns survivor can provide strength, hope, new meaning and validation through this shared experience.

This is an overview of S.H.A.R.E. a Burns Peer Support program and its growth since its inception as a hospital-based program covering 2 local health districts since 2014.

S.H.A.R.E. is a formalised program that offers inpatients or outpatients a chance to speak to a peer support volunteer who has also experienced burn injuries. Interested burn survivors complete a recruitment process that assesses their emotional readiness to provide peer support. After the burns survivors complete the training, they begin their role as a peer support volunteer.  Patients are matched with a volunteer using a referral and consent process. Follow up, debrief and ongoing support is provided to the peer support volunteer following each visit.

SHARE has now grown to include outpatients, developed a meet and greet burn survivors monthly morning tea, is exploring the peer support relationship using Telehealth as a way to reach out to more rural burns survivors, and there has been an increasing interest from other hospitals nationally who wish to adopt the SHARE model.

Key Words

SHARE, sharing, hope, acceptance, resilience, experience, peer support, volunteer, burns patients, overview


Dana Goennemann is a social worker and co-ordinator of the S.H.A.R.E. Burns Peer Support Program since August 2014. The S.H.A.R.E. program operates across the 2 major adult burns units in NSW, Concord Repatriation General Hospital and Royal North Shore Hospital. She is passionate about the peer support relationship that facilitates a pathway to new meaning through the sharing of lived experiences. Prior to this, Dana worked as a Stroke Rehab social worker at St. Vincent’s Hospital and also provided cover in Geriatrics and Emergency. She enjoys spending time with her active boys Finn and Glenn and is a keen traveller.

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