Peer support in progress: what works best to make peer support projects successful

The report explores what peer support is, how to make it work and
makes recommendations for practice. The report finds that in order to be
effective, the implementation of peer support must be accompanied by an
understanding of how the values of peer support can be embedded within
services.

Peer support is a fast-moving global
trend in mental health service delivery; the numbers of people who have
experienced, and learned to manage their own mental health difficulties,
being employed to support others facing similar struggles, grows year
on year. Yet, peer support remains a controversial and contested
practice. It has often fallen foul of those who are suspicious of a
trend which places value on “lived experience” rather than professional
qualifications and attaches value, rather than stigma, to the experience
of mental-ill health. Even those who advocate for its efficacy agree
that its specific benefits are difficult to identify and describe, let
alone deliver and quantify.

The report is based in a qualitative
study, using interviews with 36 peer support workers and their
colleagues from all over the country and from different sectors. It
includes a thoughtful exploration of what peer support is and the
benefits of using lived experience in service delivery. It also includes
clear recommendations for the implementation of peer support within
organisations: including strategic planning, recruitment and
supervision.

The resulting research sheds new light on
what is valuable about peer support and how it can be implemented as an
effective form of practice. It shows that embedding a ‘counter culture’
of practice such as peer support within traditional statutory
organisations requires skill and strategic planning, as well as an
understanding of how to translate the values of peer support into
everyday practice interactions. It lays out the blue-prints for
implementing effective peer support for organisations that are new to
peer support or are struggling to get it right.

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Published by Residential Forum

The Residential Forum is to promote the achievement of high standards of care and support for children and adults living in residential care and nursing homes, supported housing, residential schools and colleges, hospices and hostels. It contributes to improving the quality of service to the public. Members of the Forum are people of standing and experience drawn from the public, private and voluntary sectors, as well as some who can speak for service users and carers.

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