Peer support

Peer support is expanding internationally at an amazing rate, and in Nottinghamshire Healthcare it is not only growing, but flourishing. Over 50 peer workers now work in teams in Mental Health Services for Older People (MHSOP), Adult Mental Health (AMH) and substance use services. New roles are also being developed in Specialist Services.

Using peer support across the Trust is a brilliant way of promoting and aiding recovery. Peer support is an incredible tool in recovery: peer workers are recovery-focused and can offer empathy and hope from an authentic understanding of life on a recovery journey, which research shows can greatly benefit not just the peer worker and the person they support, but also the team in which they work.

Recovery-focused practice is something that Nottinghamshire Healthcare strives for, and introducing peer support into services is one way of enhancing services through recovery and strengths-based approaches in order to deliver person-centred care to people who use them, their family, friends and loved ones.

What is peer support?

Sherry Mead (2003) defines peer support as ‘a system of giving and receiving help founded on key principles of respect, shared responsibility, and mutual agreement of what is helpful. Peer support is not based on psychiatric models and diagnostic criteria. It is about understanding another’s situation empathically through the shared experience of emotional and psychological pain.’

Peers are people who have lived experience, either personally or as a carer, of mental health challenges, and peer support workers are those who use these experiences to help others on their recovery journey. They can offer an empathic ear, hold hope and show that a diagnosis doesn’t need to define a person.

How can I work with a peer support worker?

Peer support in Nottinghamshire Healthcare is provided in both inpatient and community services, throughout a range of teams. We currently have peer support workers based in many areas, including:

  • Adult inpatient (Highbury)
  • Adult Mental Health (AMH)
  • Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS)
  • Let’s Live Well in Rushcliffe
  • Mental Health Services for Older People (MHSOP)
  • Perinatal
  • Recovery colleges
  • And additional services outside the Trust

Peer support workers are a part of the staff team within the service they’re based in. When referred to, transitioned into or admitted to a service in which there is a peer support worker, a person has the choice of whether or not they want to work with them. Peer support is person-centred, and is an opt-in addition to an existing team.

How does peer support benefit services?

Having peers in services has many benefits, not only to the team they work in but also to the Trust as a whole. Employing peer support workers sends out and reinforces the message that we value people with lived experience, and that these experiences are to be celebrated.

Peer support takes the traditional model of an expert helping a patient and turns it around by acknowledging the people using our services as the experts they are in their own recovery. By respecting each other and our experiences, we can enhance services for both staff and the people using them.

For more information about peer support in Nottinghamshire Healthcare, please contact the Peer Development Team:

Peer Support Development Team
Duncan Macmillan House
Porchester Road
Nottingham
NG3 6AA