Peer support workers in eating disorder services
The South East Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs) (Wessex, Oxford and Kent Surrey Sussex) have recently undertaken research to explore the potential role of peer support in the management of eating disorders.
Three surveys (one staff survey and two patient surveys) of over 100 respondents in our regions have gathered the views and experiences of service users, carers and NHS employees towards peer support.
Peer support workers (PSW) are people who are integrated into the care team to help support mental health service users and their families. PSW often have experienced the particular conditions themselves and therefore are able to empathise and offer a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by service users. While peer support is not currently part of the early intervention pathway, it is seen as having the potential to work well within an eating disorder service.
Our surveys found that:
- 50% of child and adolescent mental health services users (CAMHS), 81% of adult eating disorder service users and 100% of carers say they think having a peer support worker is a good idea;
- Service users and carers say that support from a peer support worker would be most useful for: helping with practical activities like budgeting and organisation, talking about medication and treatment options, liaising with education and using positive, non-medical language;
- Most respondents in the staff survey say they think that peer support will be effective within eating disorders;
- 100% of staff with peer support work experience and 96% without experience express potential interest in implementing/ learning about the role of peer support workers in the eating disorder pathway.
Download the full survey objectives, methodology and analysis here.
Peer Support in Eating Disorders Services Webinar
Join our free webinar on Wednesday 1 March 2023, between 09:30 – 12:00 to learn more about the survey findings and to hear from experts on the practical aspects of implementing PSWs within an eating disorder environment. Register for your place via this link.