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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.

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.

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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Te Pou has a wide range of evidence-based resources and tools to help the mental health, addiction and disability workforces.

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Our work

Te Pou works alongside mental health and addiction services, and disability organisations to understand their priorities and workforce challenges.

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