The New York Association on Independent Living (NYAIL) is implementing the Open Doors Peer Outreach and Referral initiative as a component of the Money Follows the Person (MFP) demonstration, which aims to provide seniors and people with disabilities with peer support during the transition process. Peers are people with experience in institutionalized environments who have transitioned to home and community based settings, or people with disabilities who are familiar with receiving services and supports at home in their communities.

Peers will meet one-on-one with interested individuals to:

• Ensure that interested facility residents have the information needed to make informed choices about long term care supports and services in community settings
• Establish relationships with long term care facility residents and staff, as well as family and resident councils
• Be an ongoing presence in the facilities in order to share personal experiences with community living, provide support to individuals and their guardians throughout the decision making and transition process, and describe how the basic process of transitioning works

The Open Doors Peers are employed by local Independent Living Centers. There are enough peers to provide coverage in all counties across the state. Requests for peer services are approved through NYAIL and then referred to the appropriate Independent Living Center.

Click [here] to submit a request for a peer visit. You will be contacted within a few business days to arrange a meeting.

Adjectives Graphic (e.g., kind, caring, communicator, friendly, honest, organized, responsible, etc)

Peers will work with individuals to gain control over the little things in life, such as:

•  Choice of whether to move at all
•  Choice of where to live (the location has to qualify as an independent setting).
•  Choice of service provider, including direct service worker
•  Choice of when and what to eat
•  Choice of what to wear
•  Choice to call or visit family and friends
•  Choice of place to worship
•  Choice of temperature control
•  Choice of recreation
•  Choice to have privacy and security of possessions
•  Choice of when to shower and/or take a bath
•  Choice of uninterrupted sleep when you want it
•  Choice of roommate or the choice to not have a roommate


The power of the peer comes from the breadth of their lived experience. All peers are required to complete a paid eight hour training and satisfactorily pass a post-test to assess competency. Peers will be exposed to training in the following areas:

•  Active listening and communication strategies
•  Boundary setting
•  Motivational interviewing and empowerment strategies
•  Explaining the transition process and incorporating lived experience
•  Discussing community living options and incorporating lived experience
•  Facilitating focus groups
•  Mandated reporting

Peers will have the opportunity to participate in ongoing education to enhance their skillsets. Feedback mechanisms are in place to allow NYAIL to develop topical trainings as needed.

For more information:

Zach Garafalo
Program Director
MFP Peer Outreach and Referral
155 Washington Ave, Suite 208
Albany, New York 12210
Phone: (518) 465-4650
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.