- How do I start a peer support program?
Starting a peer support program requires attention to the needs and strengths of your organization, the target population you aim to serve, the peer supporters and what they need to provide support, and ideas about what peer support would look like in your setting. The process often involves four phases:
- Organizational readiness
- Program development
- Program implementation
The Peers for Progress Guide to Program Development and Management provides an overview of these four phases and resources that help you address key tasks in each one. You can also view other resources shared in Start a Program.
- How do I train peer supporters?
Training peer supporters start with three key steps:
- Describe peer supporter’s roles and responsibilities
- Design training content and approach
- Develop plans for evaluating training outcomes & ongoing training
However, before starting developing and conducting your training, it is important to first outline peer support interventions that is based on core functions. In this way, your training can be in alignment with the knowledge and skills needed for the intended interventions.
To learn more about how to design training content and approach, as well as develop plans for evaluating training outcomes, please visit the section on Train Peer Supporters.
- How do I select peer supporters?
It is important to use the defined prerequisites of peer supporters and community characteristics to guide the selection process. Specifically, in addition to direct experience with managing a disease or condition, peer supporters should be similar to the population profile of the people with whom they will work in regards to issues such as age, ethnicity, and other personal characteristics. More importantly, peer support relies on the ability to develop quality relationships. Therefore, inclusion of certain interpersonal traits (e.g., empathy, motivation), social skills, and sufficient time availability is also crucial.