What is peer support?
Peer support is about people who have similar experiences coming together to offer and receive help based on a shared understanding. This occurs quite naturally in all walks as life and is often helpful, reassuring and motivating. In mental health services, the extra-ordinary value of peer to peer relationships has been demonstrated in the rapid increase in peer worker posts created in statutory and non-statutory services. Research demonstrates that these peer workers can improve the sense of hope, motivation, community engagement and self-management of the people they support; they can help change the culture of services, and being employed as a peer worker is generally very good for the recovery of the peer workers themselves.
Why employ peer workers?
Given the evidence of the effectiveness of peer support, there is every reason to employ people with lived experience in the workforce – in dedicated peer support worker posts and in any other post for which they have the qualifications, values and experiences required. However, since the single defining distinction between a peer worker and non-peer is the fact that they explicitly draw on their lived experience of mental health problems in their work, it is essential that they receive training and supervision to support them to do this safely, appropriately and effectively.
The development of a new role in your workforce involves a huge amount of work – defining the role, developing job descriptions, determining training and support needs, sorting out pay banding, working out how they fit into the existing workforce…. Peer Workers bring the additional challenge of breaking traditional rules about boundaries and speaking openly about their lived and life experiences.
ImROC can draw on extensive experience of developing peer workers in a range of different services to support you. We have a range of consultants with extensive experience of recruiting, training, employing, supporting, developing and working alongside peer workers – as well as several consultants who themselves continue to work as peers in services.
We will meet you to discuss your local service, your ideas about peer support, your goals, partnerships and funding. We will then match you with the most suitable ImROC consultant who will then become your point of contact with ImROC. They will work with you to develop a plan of action and build in ImROC support. This might include working through a number of stages:
Stage One: Readiness
We can provide consultancy support to review your organisational readiness for a peer workforce by working through the ImROC 10 Organisational Challenges. Working with you we will develop a local peer support action plan, this may include:
- supporting you to set up a peer support steering committee
- coproducing local plans for the employment of peer workers: in what parts of the service, in what sort of roles, with what kind of support?
You may also benefit from training. This may be: Team Preparation Training in our two-day programme where we will work with your team who will employ peers and prepare Team Recovery Implementation Plans (TRIPs); Train the Trainer Training to build key training skills and create confidence of facilitation for your trainers through an in-house training programme; Befriender Training for Volunteers and Mentor Workshops.
Stage Two: Core Skills
We offer a five-day core skills training programme alongside the five-day competency based workplace training. Overall, this 10 day training encompasses boths theoretical understanding of peer support to complement practical application of peer skills.
Our five-day core skills programme covers the ImROC principles of peer support including:
- mutuality, peer support, recovery
- reciprocity, active listening, story telling
- non-directive, strengths-based, problem solving and peer support code of conduct
- progressive and inclusive, relationships and roles
- safe practice, acting appropriately and doing the right thing at the right time
Stage Three: Competency based work placement and modular learning
To build on Stage Two Core Skills training this five-day training programme covers a range of work placement topics and additional client specific modules. Topics include: communication skills, personal wellbeing and resilience, developing support groups and group work skills, note writing and record keeping, preparing for employment.
The peer training programme is enhanced through consultancy support to identify and address specific key needs of your organisation and community.
Stage Four: Continuing Application
This stage can combine a two day peer training workshop to prepare peer trainers to facilitate peer training sessions, Action Learning Sets facilitated by ImROC team members on the topic of peer support or ongoing mentorship, advice and support as you implement peer workers. The specific focus of the learning sets is guided by local priorities and negotiated with you.
Each package of support is tailored to your requirements and budget. Our team of consultants have experience of developing a peer workforce and supporting others to do the same. They are passionate about the importance and value a peer workforce brings to recovery-orientated services and communities.
Do get in touch with us and we will discuss a bespoke support package for you.
Our way of working:
- Values based
- Practice based evidence.
- PDSA cycle
- Locally, regionally, nationally, internationally
To download the leaflet version of this page click here
You may also be interested in attending national events on the topic of peer workforce. To find out more visit our events page
How to find out more – contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07342070582.