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Consumer, peer support and lived experience

Ngā wheako

Te Pou is committed to developing the consumer, peer support and lived experience workforce in New Zealand.

Growth of the peer workforce

Te Pou is a source of information and resources to help the mental health, addiction and disability sectors develop and grow the peer workforce in a sustainable and measured way.

The peer workforce (also known as the consumer, peer support and lived experience workforce) includes all roles that require personal lived experience of mental health and/or addiction problems. This includes roles such as peer support workers and consumer advisor roles. Te Pou uses the term ‘peer workforce’ to describe this workforce. 

The peer workforce has a vital part to play in effectively supporting service users and whānau.

Strategic direction

People who have experienced mental health and addiction challenges and gained wellbeing develop many skills, knowledge, talents and attributes through those experiences.

He Ara Oranga: Report of the Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction heard substantial evidence that people and whānau want and need their voices to be heard and to be in service design and delivery. The Inquiry recommends the Ministry of Health and District Health Boards strengthen people’s voices and experience in services and be accountable for delivering on this goal. The consumer, peer support and lived experience workforce shares this view and enlarges on it. We want a future where wellbeing is realisable for all people and where lived experience voices, skills and leadership are at the heart of service and systems design and service delivery.

Developing the consumer, peer support and lived experience workforce has been shown to benefit everyone in services – not just the people who access these.

Consumer, peer support and lived experience workforce development action plan

In 2020 the Consumer, peer support and lived experience workforce development strategy was launched. The strategy was developed to support mental health and addiction consumer, peer support and lived experience workforce development to 2025. To ensure the intention of the strategy is carried out, a Consumer, peer support and lived experience workforce development action plan has been developed. The action plan contains 22 actions taken from the strategy that will be carried out through lived experience workforce leadership, robust partnerships and Te Pou project development. The work will be guided through an advisory group, a cultural accountability council and sector involvement.

Peer workforce values

  • Mutuality

    The authentic two-way relationships between people through ‘the kinship of common experience’.

  • Experiential knowledge

    The learning, knowledge and wisdom that comes from personal lived experience of mental distress or addiction and recovery.

  • Self-determination

    The right for people to make free choices about their life and to be free from coercion on the basis of their mental distress or addiction.

  • Participation

    The right for people to participate in and lead mental health and/or addiction services including in the development or running of services as well as in their own treatment and recovery.

  • Equity

    The right of people who experience mental distress and/or addiction to have fair and equal opportunities to other citizens and to be free of discrimination.

  • Recovery and hope

    The belief that there is always hope and that resiliency and meaningful recovery is possible for everyone.

Peer workforce competencies

In 2014 the competencies for the mental health and addiction service user, consumer and peer workforce were created and launched to help shape the development of this workforce in mental health and addiction services. You can access the original 2014 competency document here.

In 2021 the competencies have been revised and refreshed following robust consultation from consumer, peer support and lived experience workers, managers and leaders from the sector. The refreshed resource outlines the competencies necessary for the workforce at three levels: essential, enhanced and leader. They include the values that are important to the workforce, baseline competencies for the whole of the workforce and specific competencies for peer support workers and consumer advisors.

The 2021 competencies document can be used to inform all aspects of work including training, recruitment, performance management, self-assessment, service specifications, auditing and more.

We thank the many people who were involved in the refresh.

Co-designing with the mātau ā-wheako CPSLE workforce

Co-design, co-development, collaboration, and consultation are methods that are commonly used with the mātau ā-wheako CPSLE workforce in research activity, service design, service improvement and delivery.

The need to include people with lived experience and their whānau in co-design activity has been reinforced by the Pae Ora (Health Futures) Act 2022 that sets out this code of expectations.

We have released this guide that gives a step-by-step process to co-designing with the mātau ā-wheako CPSLE workforce. It is important that mātau ā-wheako CPSLE roles can participate meaningfully in co-design and have their contribution recognised.

A national professional body for the CPSLE workforce

A national professional body is a membership-based organisation for people who work in a group of roles that have something in common with each other. For many years, the CPSLE workforce have discussed the need for a national professional body. In 2017/18 Te Pou held forums around the country about workforce planning. This culminated in the development of a national CPSLE workforce development strategy and an accompanying action plan. Creating a national professional body is included in the action plan.

Reflective practice guides

This set of guides has been developed to support the mātau ā-wheako CPSLE workforce to engage in reflective practice. It provides an overview of reflective practice for the mātau ā-wheako CPSLE workforce, including different approaches, key elements of effective reflective practice, and benefits to mātau ā-wheako CPSLE workers. It also highlights culturally safe and responsive practice.

The suite of reflective practice guides includes one each for mātau ā-wheako CPSLE workers, reflective practitioners, and kaiwhakahaere/managers. Each guide includes the same information in part one, followed by information specific to the audience in part two.

CPSLE workforce survey

The 2022 consumer, peer support, and lived experience (CPSLE) workforce survey reveals a complex and well-qualified workforce, who continue to provide a unique and crucial service, whilst navigating challenges and barriers that exist within the system. The survey was completed by 244 people in paid and unpaid lived experience roles.

Survey findings will inform and guide ongoing workforce planning and development, including implementation of the CPSLE action plan. Findings can also inform collective advocacy for solutions to the issues and challenges experienced by the CPSLE workforce.

Communities of practice for the CPSLE workforce

Building communities of practice is one of the 22 actions described in the Consumer, Peer Support and Lived Experience (CPSLE) action plan. This action aims to create workforce communities of practice that facilitate the sharing of information, knowledge and resources to improve individual skills and service development.

We bring together the progress on this action to date. On the communities of practice page you will find a guide to establishing a CPSLE community of practice, supported by a series of video clips of members and allies sharing their experiences of being part of a local community of practice.

Consumer, peer support and lived experience workforce stocktake of available information

Information about the consumer, peer support and lived experience workforce supports good planning and development. This overview of the available data on the consumer, peer support and lived experience workforce shows its size and composition, as well as data on workforce development challenges. We will update this information as new data becomes available.

Training needs analysis

Early in 2022, Te Pou undertook a training needs analysis of the consumer, peer support and lived experience (CPSLE) workforce. The aim of this needs analysis was to describe and better understand the training needs, gaps and barriers for the Aotearoa New Zealand CPSLE workforce. To do this we carried out an online survey, five focus groups, and ten stakeholder interviews. In total we engaged with 118 people. This needs analysis is part of implementing Action 3.5 from the Consumer Peer Support and Lived Experience workforce development Action Plan.

CPSLE training directory

There are many training options available to people seeking to work in consumer, peer support or lived experience (CPSLE) roles, as well as for those established in the workforce. Some trainings are specific to lived experience-only, while other trainings apply across the wider mental health and addiction sector. Provided here is a short list of trainings that may be useful to you in developing your career in CPSLE roles.

CPSLE worker scopes of practice

The Consumer, Peer Support, and Lived Experience Workforce Action Plan, Action 2.4 describes the intention to develop scopes of practice for the CPSLE workforce. Scopes of practice will support role clarity and advocate for CPSLE roles in the workforce. We conducted a literature review to inform the implementation of this project.

CPSLE national body options paper

This document aims to support the CPSLE workforce to make informed decisions about the development of a national professional body. This paper outlines conceptual options for the workforce to make informed decisions on what the development of a national professional body may look like moving forward.

A literature scan of various types of professional bodies, including international examples from similar workforces, was used to inform this paper. This paper was also informed by a national workforce forum, along with ongoing consultation with the CPSLE workforce through wānanga, interviews, forums, and feedback mechanisms.

CPSLE guide

Are you an employer, a manager, a colleague or a funder of the mātau ā-wheako, consumer, peer support or lived experience (CPSLE) workforce, or an organisation or service who includes or are intending to employ or work with this workforce? Or are you curious about what comprises the mātau ā-wheako, CPSLE workforce, what they do, what their values are and what they need to thrive? This guide, created from information, feedback and experiences from the mātau ā-wheako CPSLE workforce, provides answers to many of the questions you may have and describes what is required to support a valued and effective workforce.

Real Skills online assessment tool

Real Skills provides a free and easy way to gather, access and review information on your workforce’s knowledge and skills in the peer workforce competencies and other sector frameworks. This information can help identify particular areas that might need development in order to provide best practice care for people accessing services. Find out more about signing your organisation up to Real Skills.

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