Patients’ views: peer support worker on inpatient wards

Published date08 August 2016
Date08 August 2016
AuthorJoy M Rooney,Nadine Miles,Tom Barker
Patientsviews: peer support worker
on inpatient wards
Joy M. Rooney, Nadine Miles and Tom Barker
Joy M. Rooney is a Project
Leader and a Peer Support
Worker at Worcestershire
Health and Care NHS Trust,
Keith Winter House,
Bromsgrove, UK.
Nadine Miles is an Honorary
Psychology Student at
Studdert Kennedy House,
Worcestershire Health
and Care NHS Trust,
Bromsgrove, UK and
the University of Worcester,
Worcester, UK.
Tom Barker is a Clinical
Psychologist at Worcestershire
Health and Care NHS Trust,
Worcester, UK.
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to explore patientsexperiences of intentional mental health peer
support (PS).
Design/methodology/approach Seven in-depth interviews were carried out by an independent
researcher with individual inpatients who volunteered via a PS worker following leaflet and poster distribution
explaining the research on the two wards. Each recorded interview of 13 questions was transcribed verbatim
by the researcher and analysis identified common themes across the interviews.
Findings An overarching theme of communication with patients was identified together with six main
themes: person centredness, practical support, building connections, emotional support, modelling hope
and recovery interventions. There were no negative comments expressed by interviewees.
Research limitations/implications Small scale qualitative research allows in-depth exploration of
experiences which is valuable in informing the further development of PS.
Originality/value There are very few published reports of inpatient experiences of PS in inpatient settings.
Keywords Consumer, Evaluation, Mental health, Qualitative research, Peer support, Inpatient,
Service users/patients
Paper type Research paper
Peer support (PS) draws on shared experiences as a source for mutual benefit (Repper and
Carter, 2011) while intentional PS is the term adopted to describe the employment of service
users as paid providers of support (Faulkner and Basset, 2010). The first cohort of intentional PS
workers (PSWs), funded by Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust, was trained by the
Institute of Mental Health, Nottingham over 11 days. The course is accredited with 20 points at
level 4 with the Open University.
There continues to be conflicting evidence in the more recent literature that PS benefits
patients/service users/consumers. From the comparison of randomised control trials (RCTs)
either no effects, or slight non-significant benefits are reported although the emphasis of these
findings seems to depend on the type of journal in question making the report: a psychiatric
type journal making the emphasis in the negative (Lloyd-Evans et al.,2014;Pittet al., 2013) vs
a social psychiatric type (Fuhr et al.,2014).However,Lloyd-Evanset al. (2014) do
suggest there was some evidence was associated with the positive effects of hope, recovery
and empowerment beyond the end of the intervention, although this was not consistent within
or across different types of PS. And Pitt et al. (2013) suggested that there was less
emergency access to services. Other RCTs (Cook, 2011; Daniels et al.,2013;Druss
et al., 2010; Sledge et al., 2011) all show a small positive effect of PS. Fuhr et al. (2014)
demonstrated a small positive effect on the quality of life and hope in high-income societies
with PS of those with serious mental health issues. And Chinman et al. (2014) are also more
positive in their review of RCTs and feel with greater specificity, consistency, and
rigour the evidence would be strengthened. When studying the transition between hospital
VOL. 20 NO. 3 2016, pp. 160-166, © Emerald Group Publishing Limited, ISSN 2042-8308 DOI 10.1108/MHSI-02-2016-0007

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