28 / 10 / 2013
The widespread introduction of people with lived experience of mental health problems into the mental health workforce is probably the single most important factor contributing to changes towards more recovery-oriented services.
ImROC paper 5, Peer Support Workers: Theory and Practice, discussed the theoretical background, core principles and the range of potential benefits. In paper 6, the practical issues of implementation are discussed in more detail.
When developing peer worker posts, it is useful to think of four sequential phases.
The first involves preparation – of the organisation as a whole, of the teams in which peers will be placed, and, perhaps most obviously, of the peers themselves.
The second phase involves recruitment of peers to the posts that have been created or existing posts that have been modified for peer workers. Given the likelihood that peer applicants may have not worked for some time, nor been through an interview process with all of the formalities and checks that this brings, the whole process needs careful support.
Thirdly, there is the safe and effective employment of peer workers in mental health organisations.
Finally, the ongoing development of peer worker opportunities and contributions needs to be considered in the context of the wider healthcare system and the changing culture