‘Expertise Through Experience’-The Feasibility, Initiation, and Development of a Family Members and Carers Peer to Peer Support Group in an Early Psychosis Service

Poster C13, Saturday, October 22, 11:30 am - 1:00 pm, Le Baron

Patrick Egan1, Peter Gallagher1,2, Mary Kelleher1,3, Felicity Fanning1, Elizabeth Lawlor1, Mary Clarke1,3,4,5; 1DETECT Early Intervention for Psychosis Service, Dublin, Ireland., 2Saint John of God Hospitaller Ministries, Dublin, Ireland., 3Saint John of God Community Services Ltd. Dublin, Ireland., 4University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland., 5Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Dublin, Ireland.

Purpose. The DETECT Information Support Course (DISC) is for families of people experiencing first episode psychosis and who are attending the DETECT Early Intervention in Psychosis Service. We sought to initiate and facilitate a family member peer to peer support group which could draw on the lived experience of people whose relatives had been diagnosed with first episode psychosis, to supplement the existing course. Although peer to peer support is well rehearsed between service users, it is not as commonly reported for informal carers. Methods. An advisory group consisting of psychiatry, psychology, social work, a previous service user, and a family member researched existing peer to peer projects and drew up guidelines for recruitment of volunteers and their work with families. Volunteers were selected who had previously attended the DISC course. Training was provided and volunteers were matched with carers requesting additional support following the standard DISC course. Results. We established there was a demand for peer to peer support, and it was feasible to recruit peer volunteers from previous course attendee’s though ethical issues were a consideration. Feedback from family’s and volunteers was positive. The steering group process and outcomes are tabulated on the poster. Conclusion. Families frequently report a sense of isolation and a perception of stigma associated with their relative’s diagnosis. Support volunteers who have themselves been through these experiences are uniquely qualified to help. This is an example of expertise through experience which will augment the professional supports available to families and carers recovery journey.

Topic Area: Psychosocial Interventions

Back to Poster Schedule