Transformation Unit

Supporting workforce development

Developing a framework that will identify, implement and train peer support workers within a wide range of clinical specialities.

The client

Health Education England’s role is to provide system-wide leadership and oversight for workforce planning, education and training across England.

The challenge

Peer support workers (PSW) improve patients’ experience of care and support improvements in population health outcomes. A number of peer support programmes around mental health already exist. Health Education England (HEE) asked for our support in developing a framework that would enable this role to work across a broader range of clinical specialities.

​“We believe that people who have had similar experiences are better placed to support those who are just starting their journey.” (An employer of a PSW)

Our approach

To make sure the framework was based on sound evidence, we conducted a thorough literature review. We also talked with a wide range of stakeholders, including existing peer support workers, to find out more about their experiences. To design the framework, we used our learnings from these conversations and our existing knowledge, working collaboratively with colleagues across the health and voluntary sectors.

“… can’t emphasise the importance of these roles enough in and out of organisation. The ability to provide on the ground information and support to patients and staff and deliver a sense of hope and a greater sense of empathy to a patient is invaluable.” (A colleague of a PSW)

 The outcome

  • We developed a framework that included steps to recruiting and embedding PSWs, including training materials. We also provided recommendations about which clinical areas would benefit the most from PSWs and advised on the best way to collaborate with the voluntary sector. As the framework is rolled out across more clinical specialties, more patients will be able to experience the benefits from both being a peer support worker and from accessing the support they offer.

Thank you very much again to you and your team for the great job done on this project. It has been lovely working together and hopefully it won’t be a singular occurrence.” (Andra Chiscop, Project Manager, Mental Health Programme – North, HEE)