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Peer support

Peer support isn’t something new. In fact, its roots can be traced back to the eighteenth century, when asylums would employ former patients (Watson, 2019), due to the empathetic way they would interact with other patients, as a result of their shared lived experiences. 

As things have progressed, and recovery now involves supporting individuals to makes sense of what has happened and emphasises resilience and control over one’s life - as opposed to only focusing on full symptom resolution - peer support is fast becoming an integral addition to mental health services.  

At Nottinghamshire Healthcare we put personal recovery at the heart of all we do. As peer support workers (PSWs) model recovery, by offering a lived example of the possibility of progression and growth, we employ a number of trained individuals to work in various clinical teams across many localities. 

How do peer supporters work?

In mental health services, peer support work encompasses a range of approaches through which people with lived experience of distress and recovery support each other. This support might be social, emotional or practical.  However, peer support workers make use of knowledge in their work, gained from their own personal experiences. This results in a different type of engagement and connection with people who use services, when compared to non-peer staff. 

How can a peer support worker support you?

Peer support workers (PSWs) work within multi-disciplinary teams (alongside doctors, nurses, psychologists etc.) found across our services. If you, or a loved one, are referred to one of these services, you will be given the choice of whether or not you would like to work with one of our PSWs. If you make the decision to work with one of our PSWs, they could support you in the following ways: 

  • By establishing a supportive and respectful relationship with you that is based on a shared understanding
  • Helping you identify your recovery goals
  • Sharing ideas with you, about ways of achieving recovery goals, by drawing on their own personal experience and a range of coping, self-help and self-management techniques
  • Assist you in creating your own recovery plan and develop an advanced directive
  • By modelling personal responsibility, self-awareness, self-belief, self-advocacy and hopefulness
  • Signposting you to various resources, opportunities and activities within the trust and in the community
  • Accompanying you to appointments, meetings and activities that are aligned to recovery goals
  • Helping you to overcome fears within a relationship of empathy and trust

How can you train to be a peer support worker?

As a result of the growth and need for peer support, we have developed a comprehensive training package for people who are interested in developing the necessary skills to use their experience of mental health, trauma or distress to support people who might be up against similar challenges. 

  • To be eligible to apply for the training package, you will need to meet the following criteria:
  • You need to have lived experience of mental distress and recovery
  • You need to be in a position to be able to use your own experiences positively to foster hope and inspire others
  • You need to have the ability to work in an enabling and creative way
  • You need to be able to commit to the training course
  • You need to be able to demonstrate the ability and aptitude to undertake the training 
  • You need to have a positive attitude and value diversity
  • You need to have a willingness to support others to shape and improve our services
  • You need to have developed plans for managing your own recovery

However, it isn’t all about just having lived experience. The training requires all trainee peer support workers to undertake 10 full days of classroom training and a thirty hour observed clinical placement. During this time, trainee PSWs will cover things such as:

  • Boundaries and safe working practices
  • Active listening and communication skills
  • The key principles of recovery and recovery focused support
  • How to share lived experience safely with colleagues and in peer support relationships
  • Completing a reflective practice work placement booklet to ensure they have met the course competencies
  • Recovery focused note writing 

Completion of the course prepares people well to apply for employment in the role of peer support worker when posts become available within the Trust.

Get in touch:

Our Peer Development Team are responsible for overseeing the Trust’s formalised recruitment, training and development of all peer support workers. 

The team consists of five people:

Emma Watson, Peer Development Lead - emma.watson@nottshc.nhs.uk

Tessa Rodgers, Peer Support Development Worker - tessa.rodgers@nottshc.nhs.uk

Scott Pomberth, Peer Support Development Worker - scott.pomberth@nottshc.nhs.uk

Drew Szmit, Peer Support Development Worker - drew.szmit@nottshc.nhs.uk 

Kajsa Thwaites, Peer Support Worker - kajsa.thwaites@nottshc.nhs.uk

General email: peersupport@nottshc.nhs.uk

Telephone: 0115 969 1300 ext.16313

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