By: Erin Burns
Peggy Lillis Foundation’s Peer Support Network is an online program for people affected by Clostridioides difficile, or C. diff, infections. Individuals are connected with experienced mentors who have survived or cared for someone with C. diff. Trained PLF volunteers can provide ongoing support or be available to answer just a few questions. Peer supporters are trained to provide emotional and social support to individuals suffering from C. diff. Additionally, supporters may assist with self-care activities (e.g., diet and exercise, hygiene, home infection control) and connect patients with appropriate healthcare providers and facilities. Conversations can take place over email, text messaging, or video and/or audio calls.
History of the Program
Our Peer Support program was founded in 2022 by PLF staff and members of our Advocates Council and generously funded by Ferring Pharmaceuticals. Since the inception of the Peer Support program, volunteers have successfully assisted more than 100 participants. Volunteers have made meaningful connections with C. diff patients and caregivers who have faced similar challenges. Through these connections, participants can find empowerment in conquering this disease that often leaves people feeling helpless.
Benefits of Peer Support for C. diff
Many C. diff patients approach us feeling hopeless and lost. Through peer support, participants can find understanding, empathy, and practical advice to help them through the toughest stages of this terrible infection. The shared experience of overcoming similar challenges can create a sense of camaraderie and solidarity, fostering a supportive community.
“It’s crazy that a patient fighting for her life has to climb mountains to do so. I want to help other patients learn to advocate for themselves, and also want to give them hope that there is life after C. diff, “explains C. diff survivor and PLF Peer Support Volunteer Kee Kee Buckley.
Peer support can also help individuals feel less isolated by connecting them with others who have gone through similar experiences, reducing feelings of loneliness. Peer support empowers individuals by emphasizing their strengths and capabilities, fostering a sense of control over their own lives.
How You Can Participate
If you or a loved one needs peer support, you can request support using this form. Our team will review your request to match you with an appropriate volunteer and get back to you as soon as possible. You must be 18 or over to participate in this program.
We are always looking for volunteers willing to give their time to our Peer Support program.
In a poignant reflection, Kee Kee shares, “If you have recovered your health after having C. diff, paying it forward to help other patients is a powerful way to shine a light on the silver lining of an otherwise horrific experience.”
If you have suffered through C. diff or cared for someone with C. diff and are interested in being a peer support volunteer, apply at cdiff.org/volunteer.
Boundaries and Limitations
Peer supporters are volunteers across several time zones with work and/or family obligations that require their attention. Participants and supporters should communicate their availability to avoid any timing issues. Peer support volunteers may share aspects of their personal C. diff experience to provide advice and guidance. However, participants should respect the volunteer’s boundaries on what personal information they may share with you.
Note that PLF is run by a small staff and body of volunteers, so please make sure your questions haven’t already been answered on our FAQ page. We also have a Care Guide and Lifestyle & Nutrition Guide that can provide more specific information on taking care of yourself or your loved ones during and after a C. diff infection. All of these resources are available at no charge.