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Report backs development of peer support worker role

An independent evaluation of peer support worker pilot schemes in five Health Board areas has recommended further roll out of the role at the same time as making recommendations for future implementation.

The research report, which was commissioned by the Scottish Government and carried out by the Scottish Development Centre for Mental Health in partnership with the Universities of Edinburgh and Stirling, includes a number of key findings:
  • The peer worker role was successfully piloted in a number of settings but worked best where services were open to recovery focused working.
  • Peer workers were welcomed by service users who reported high levels of satisfaction.
  • There were challenges for peer workers in adapting to their new roles.
  • Peer workers were able to bridge the ‘them and us’ divide between service users and professionals.
  • Peer workers roles complement mental health teams with new skills and knowledge.
Recommendations include:
  • Peer support workers should be treated the same as any other employee in relation to terms and conditions.
  • Standardisation of a core peer support worker job description.
  • Peer support workers should be formally trained.
  • Workers should only be placed in supportive environments as a way to enhance, but not introduce, recovery.
  • Room should be left for peer support workers and their colleagues to develop the role gradually but systematically.
  • Providing guidance that can be used by local employers to raise awareness of the role.
The pilot schemes were developed as a result of a commitment in Delivering for Mental Health. The Scottish Recovery Network has been supporting the development of the peer support role and will continue to play a role in its promotion and implementation. 

As part of our commitment we are working with the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) to develop accredited awards and learning materials to further support the training of future peer support workers. We will also be working to develop guidelines to support the implementation of peer worker roles.

icon Summary of Evaluation of the Delivering for Mental Health Peer Support Worker Pilot Scheme (94.84 kB)

icon Evaluation of the Delivering for Mental Health Peer Support Worker Pilot Scheme (666.04 kB)

UPDATE: To access presentations from the event to disseminate evaluation findings, held in Dundee on November 19th, click here.