Accelerating Best Practices in Peer Support Around the World

Program Development Guide

Retention and Turnover of Peer Supporters

Chapter Navigation

1. Retention and Turnover of Peer Supporters

2. Ongoing Monitoring, Supervision and Support

 

Retention and Turnover of Peer Supporters

A key benefit of peer support programs is that they enable supporters to gain skills and move on to more advanced positions and/or return to school, so it is realistic to expect turnover among peer supporters. Additionally, peer supporters may drop out from the program. Therefore, it is necessary to develop strategies for retaining peer supporters and to create a plan for responding to staff turnover. When a peer supporter leaves the program for some reason, it is important to notify their participants and find a new peer supporter to fill that role.

A number of steps can be taken to clarify, recognize, honor, and maintain the contributions of peer supporters. For example, contracted hours and expectations may be agreed upon and signed by both parties. Contracts should clearly define roles, expectations, objectives, time commitment, and ethical boundaries. It should be obvious how seriously the sponsoring organization takes peer supporters and their position. Throughout the recruitment process and the program, the peer supporters should be given plenty of feedback and input about their tactics. Positive reinforcement should be given to the peer supporters in response to their work performance, and they should receive support from one another and from other staff to decrease the burnout and turnover that often threaten peer support programs’ effectiveness.

 

Here are several steps that may be taken to ensure peer supporters’ retention:

  • Encourage peer supporters’ input in defining their roles, activities and responsibilities
  • Ask about peer supporters’ expectations for being a peer supporter and how they feel about meeting these expectations
  • Outline the responsibilities of peer supporters and regularly remind them of these responsibilities
  • Provide adequate training and training materials for peer supporters
  • Require a workable time commitment to the project
  • Provide and reinforce the message that input of peer supporters is valued and appreciated
  • Organize events for peer supporters to get together on a regular basis where they can provide support to each other, exchange experiences, and suggest various problem-solving strategies
  • Make sure that peer supporters have constant support from program staff in case they need any advice related to their peer support activities
  • Maintain contact information of peer supporters and update it regularly
  • Have a protocol to follow if a peer supporter leaves the project
  • Cover travel, communication and other related expenses even when peer supporters are volunteers

 

RESOURCE DESCRIPTION
American Red Cross in South Carolina from the Community Tool Box An example illustrates how to recognize and retain volunteers.
The University of Kansas Community Tool Box: Developing a Plan for Involving Volunteers This section provides guidance, basic steps as well as examples for retaining volunteers.

 

© 2015 | Peers for Progress

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