Peer Leaders – as an example of recovery

I’ve been running (slowly) three times a week since the New Year*, and I’ve now started to run along to some of the recordings I’ve made of events.

This morning I listened to the inspirational speech given by Gene Johnson of Recovery Innovations at the NHS Confed Peer Workers event last week (as described in this earlier post). He covered a lot of ideas and I’m sure I’ll refer to it repeatedly.

He described how peer workers encourage recovery in many ways. They encourage recovery for the people they work with, and their work also aids their own recovery. But importantly they also help recovery within the organisation.

Staff, especially in inpatient units, can get so used to seeing people in times of crisis and distress that they start to lose sight of what people can be like without that distress. Having peer workers working alongside them, reminds existing staff that people do recover to something much more than their distressed selves would suggest. Peer workers raise ambitions for recovery.

I have seen peers doing this for people who are experiencing distress in my own work as a researcher and trainer. Interviewees have fed back that they have appreciated being interviewed by a peer as they know I have that understanding from personal experience. Many have expressed their surprise that a researcher can have been there, and that it gives them some hope that they too can recover their own strengths. I have seen the same as a trainer: students at the end of the course feed back that I have given them hope just by being there to provide an example that recovery is possible.

And if it works in this way with people who are experiencing distress, then it must have a similar effect with existing staff. Peers have a definite role in offering hope to all of an ambitious level of recovery.

* Latest running enthusiasm (and I was never a runner) is entirely down to Laura and the NHS Couch to 5k Podcasts.