This section includes a range of topics around peer and social support and options for training, mentoring and supervising.
People, families, whanau and communities can play a key role in managing their own health and wellbeing. Peer and social support for self-management, especially when peers are identified by patients, such as friends and family rather than strangers, has been found to help with achieving positive health outcomes. As evidence of efficacy grows, these patient-centred approaches to self-management are becoming more prevalent both in New Zealand and overseas. There are many similarities to Health Coaching, and the work done by Kaiawhina and Navigators.
A peer is a person who has had a similar experience to another person or people, such as the experience of living with diabetes or mental distress that has had a significant impact on a person’s life. They can be in paid or unpaid employment, and use their experience to benefit others in the work they do. In New Zealand, there are several examples of peer support programmes and initiatives, mostly in the area of mental health.
However, programmes such as the Stanford Chronic Disease Self Management Education Programme are designed to be led by ‘peer leaders’ who share their own lived experience with participants as part of the facilitation process. Peer support workers, whether paid or unpaid, usually work within a structured programme and generally receive training and supervision as part of their role.
Examples of peer support programmes
Peer support can range from informal peer networks or buddy systems to formal peer support programmes. In New Zealand, some examples include:
- Stanford self-management programmes
- Peer support training providers
- Tamaki NGO peer support programme
- West Coast Navigators programme
- Hora Te Pai exercise and wellness programme
An individual's social support comes from their own unique social network. The quality of these networks can have a significant impact on the health and well-being of people living with long-term conditions. There is an increasing body of evidence demonstrating that an individual's social network can enable people to self-manage, maintain social integration and individual identity.
Unlike peer support, social support is informal, and quality will vary from person to person. Whilst the value of an individual’s social network is becoming increasingly recognised as having an impact on health and wellbeing outcomes, particularly for people with complex co-morbidities, little is often known, shared, or recorded by the primary care team.
Read more about social support and care maps
Here's a series of videos explaining about social prescribing for health professionals.
1. Helen Stokes-Lampard discussed social prescribing and the current NHS landscape in the following video
Watch video with transcript here.
(The King's Fund - Helen Stokes-Lampard, UK, 2017)
2. The East Merton Social Prescribing Project: Advice on how to establish a link worker scheme (2018)
(Healthy London Partnership, UK, 2018)
3. Social prescribing and self care master by NHS England
(NHS England and NHS Improvement, UK, 2018)