Ethical Issues in Peer support: Experience from a family peer support service

Poster A29, Monday, October 8, 11:30 am - 1:00 pm, Essex Ballroom

Adele Kane1,2, Mary Kelleher1,2,4, Peter Gallagher1,2, Felicity Fanning1, Patrick Egan1, Elizabeth Lawlor1, Mary Clarke1,2,3; 1Detect Early Intervention for Psychosis Service, 2Saint John of God Community Services, 3University College Dublin, Dublin, 4Social Work, Health Service Executive, Ireland

Purpose: There has been an increasing emphasis on service users and family having more input in the design of mental health services. This is central to recovery focused services and concepts of peer support have emerged against this policy framework. Although peer support has many benefits, the introduction of such a model is not without its challenges. Material and methods: This paper considers ethical issues involved through the experience of introducing a family peer support service for psychosis within a statutory mental health service. Results: The motivation for providing such a service and eligibility requirements must be clear, particularly with regard to recovery stage. Governance arrangements need to ensure that peer supporters maintain their unique and distinct perspective but that issues regarding accountability and risk are managed. Peer workers may feel they need to be paid in order for their work to be valued while others may feel this changes the nature of the peer relationship fundamentally. Training is essential, but there is little information as to what should be provided. A balance needs to be found between providing the peer with the necessary skills and support ensuring the role does not become overly professionalised. Family peer workers may work within the same service that their family member attends. Issues regarding ongoing care need to be discussed, should a peer worker’s family member relapse. Conclusions: Peer support is a potentially valuable and effective resource but ethical issues need to be worked out clearly in advance.

Topic Area: Ethical Issues

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