Peer Support in Long Term Conditions: The Basics

Location: Scotland

This document was produced by the Mental Health Foundation and partners to support the implementation of peer support services for people with long term conditions throughout Scotland. This work is part of a larger project funded by the Long Term Conditions Alliance Scotland (LTCAS) to build capacity in peer support services for long term conditions.

This guidance builds on a two-stage research project undertaken by MHF from 2010-2011. The research found evidence of peer support activity for people with long term conditions across Scotland with positive impact on emotional and physical health, but that access to such services was patchy. Furthermore peer support services (all voluntary sector based) reported difficulties integrating with statutory services and felt they often lacked credibility in the eyes of potential referrers, especially clinicians and beneficiaries.

There is an increasing body of research and anecdotal evidence which demonstrates the benefit of peer support for managing long term conditions. There is a need not only to support increased access to this valuable and unique form of support but also to enhance the quality and impact of existing peer support throughout Scotland. It is hoped that this document will contribute to supporting NHS and voluntary sectors to work in partnership to develop services to address these needs.

Peer Support in Long Term Conditions: The Basics cover

This guidance is designed to support organisations currently delivering peer support or planning to develop peer support for people with long term conditions. It brings together good practice and guidance, based on research evidence as well as the experiences of experts in delivering peer support and those who have received peer support.

This guidance is intended to provide a brief and concise starting point, to be accessible to a wide audience and is applicable across all long term conditions. Throughout this document links to further detailed guidance and sources of support are provided. The guidance covers the following topics, the basic building blocks to developing and improving the quality of peer support services, which are:

  • Background (what is a peer in long term conditions, the benefits of peer support, different models of peer support)
  • Who benefits most from peer support
  • The matching process
  • Formalising peer support
  • Roles and functions
  • Confidentiality
  • Clarifying boundaries
  • Support and supervision
  • Training
  • Partnership working
  • Sustaining peer support services
  • Evaluation and monitoring

Publication: Developing Peer Support for Long Term Conditions

The Developing Peer Support for Long Term Conditions: Final Report features findings from a feasibility study.

Video: What is the value of peer support?

Anna, along with other experts share their experiences and knowledge of peer support and argue that it should be rolled out more widely.

A-Z Topic: Peer support

Peer support is when people use their own experiences to help each other.

A-Z Topic: Long-term physical conditions and mental health

Long-term physical conditions such as diabetes, arthritis or asthma can have a significant impact on your mental health.

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