The word "soar" means "to rise, glide or fly in the air, to climb quickly or powerfully." If you ask a burn survivor about the meaning of the word "soar", he or she will tell you that air isn't required to soar. All you need to soar is hope, love and the support of loved ones and the community. Now soar takes on a new meaning.
Survivors Offering Assistance in Recovery (SOAR) is a program designed by The Phoenix Society and a national committee of experts to provide training to burn survivors or their family members who want to volunteer to help others whose lives have been touched by a burn injury. The hospital based program is intended to make it easier for burn centers to work with volunteers in providing peer support to patients. Peer support assists individuals in adapting to a burn injury through sharing similar experiences.
The SOAR program was introduced in 2001 and has helped to qualify and validate the peer support that had previously been provided on an informal basis. Six hospitals were chosen to implement the program as part of a pilot group to test the program and provide feedback. Soon after these hospitals provided feedback we modified the program slightly and now have over 30 burn centers in the process of implementing a SOAR program. If you would like more information on the SOAR program, please Contact Us.
A well organized peer support program is a win-win situation for all involved - patients and their families, the hospital burn team, and the person providing peer support.
Many people who successfully recover from a burn injury find purpose and meaning by helping others make the transition from burn victim to burn survivor. Those who recover successfully have learned a lot through trial and error and hope to make the road easier for others. The SOAR training program empowers volunteers with information and skills needed to provide appropriate forms of support.
The SOAR program includes an application and screening process and training covering topics such as how to work in a hospital setting, the role of the peer supporter, boundaries, do's and don'ts, communication skills, and the process of psychosocial recovery for patients and families. The training is taught through lecture, discussion, case studies and role-playing.
"SOAR training by the Phoenix Society … allowed us to begin giving back to this wonderful community.
This injury can happen not only to the burn survivor but also to those surrounding him. We are now prepared to listen, to tell our story, and to support all injured from burns."
- Jim Adams, Firefighter, Burn Survivor
Once a patient or patient's family has been identified as wanting to speak to another burn survivor, the burn center staff contact the SOAR coordinator in the burn center, and the coordinator arranges for the peer supporter to meet the patient or family. Those trained are volunteers of the local hospital.