Helping Frontline Service Providers

The project -- Helping Frontline Service Providers with the Impact of Overdose Fatalities -- is designed to explore and test systematic peer support programs and practices for frontline service providers to help them cope with the effects of fatal overdoses in the communities they serve.

It is a yearlong UCS pilot project in partnership with Learn to Cope, which serves families helping their loved ones who are suffering from addiction. The project is being managed by Franklin Cook, owner of UCS, and Kathy Day, L2C Senior Northeast Regional Manager.

The project is funded by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and was launched May 1, 2018. It is designed to integrate multi-faceted peer support activities into the operations of L2C in order to strengthen the resiliency of its 225 volunteers and staff as they cope with the aftermath of overdoses experienced by those they serve.

PROGRAM ELEMENTS
  • Components to directly benefit staff and volunteers:
    • A private, moderated online support community, called "Refuge & Reflection" 
    • Face-to-face support groups (based on a UCS model called Peer Grief Sharing Circles)
    • A full-day interactive training on grief after a substance-use death
    • Coaching for staff and volunteers on real-time issues that arise related to fatalities that occur
    • Video support discussions via online technology, beginning with the advisory groups (see below)
  • Engagement of two advisory groups, one comprised of staff and another of volunteers, which will:
    • Model the video support discussions
    • Assess the project based on qualitative and quantitative feedback 
    • Review a final report that will include recommendations for future program implementation
  • Developmental work with Coping Today support group facilitators (CT groups provide direct grief support):
    • Dialogue about facilitator needs (first face-to-face meeting was held July 21)
    • CT facilitators to participate in the online community forum
    • Exploration of consultation and support to directly benefit CT facilitators
  • Other components:
    • A presentation on grief was delivered to half a dozen L2C support groups, but the topic was untimely or difficult for some L2C members, so the presentation was discontinued.
    • Franklin supported a June 16, 2018, L2C family conference, Knowledge Is Power (and hopes are that it will be annual event).