It is commonly acknowledged and understood that the involvement of peer support workers in the delivery and creation of services can improve the treatment options open to patients and allow for “real life” stories and experiences to be shared, often presenting a tangible message of hope or recovery for those accessing care.
Peer support workers are those with their own lived experiences of having an eating disorder and are able to share their stories and experiences of hope and recovery with those currently receiving treatment. They do not have to be healthcare professionals, which can make them more relatable to those they are supporting, though some may choose to develop a career in health following their engagement with patients and their families as a peer support worker.
It is vital that the use of peer support workers is safe and appropriate, offering a positive and worthwhile experience for patients and those sharing their knowledge as they provide peer support.
Peer Support audit:
The Southeast regional Academic Health Science Networks (Wessex, Oxford & Kent, Surrey and Sussex) have been working with our eating disorder colleagues to implement an early intervention model, FREED. In addition to this piece of work, we have conducted a Peer Support audit. This involved a staff survey and two patient surveys with the purpose of gathering opinions on whether Peer Support Workers (PSW) would complement the eating disorder pathway. The primary aim of the surveys was to get an insight on whether patients and staff see PSW as being effective within eating disorders. The secondary aim was to identify if certain factors, such as having previous experience with PSW, affect the perceptions on their helpfulness across the services.
Peer support webinar Wednesday 1 March 2023 09:30-12:00.
The Southeast regional AHSN mental health leads hosted a Peer Support Webinar. LINK to the recording.
The aim of the event:
• Practical aspects of implementing a peer worker in an ED setting
• Organisational readiness (linking in with the two companies who provide the training for peer support)
• The voice of a peer support worker
• Hearing from someone who has received care themselves and the impact it has made.
• BEAT (ED charity) outcome of the peer support training for those wanting to work in ED settings.
• Evaluation of the role and how they can support the workforce agenda.