Authors: Shannon Jansen, Rebecca Ljubic, Amanda Davis, Tamara Northey, Francesca Coniglio, Sonny Jane Wise, Caitlin Marshall, Lizzie Rose, Caroline McLaren
Event: 2022 TheMHS Conference
Subject: recovery, lived experience, community, peer work, workforce
Type of resource: Conference Presentations and Papers
Abstract: PANEL PRESENTATION: Holding peer space responding to mental health distress: Australia’s first Urgent Mental Health Care Centre
Shannon Jansen, Rebecca Ljubic, Amanda Davis
The knowledge, abilities and attributes of the lived experience or peer workforce in supporting healing and recovery in mental health services is now widely recognised. Offering genuine reform in the ways we respond to mental health distress requires a transformed approach, including a transformed workforce and transformed ways of working together to support people in acute distress. This presentation outlines efforts to hold peer space in Australia’s first Urgent Mental Health Care Centre in Adelaide, surfacing learnings from the first 18 months of operation, including the benefits, challenges and processes that help.
The Adelaide Urgent Mental Health Care Centre, funded by SA Health and the Commonwealth as part of the Adult Mental Health Centre pilots, offers an alternative to going to hospital emergency for people experiencing mental health crisis. Free, urgent support is available to understand what will help right now, and what might be needed later, from a workforce including people with lived and learned experience – peers and a mix of professionals including nurses, allied health clinicians, doctors and psychiatrists.
Lived experience underpinned the philosophy of care and service design, a process involving the local community in extensive co-design. Fifty percent of every shift is staffed by peer workers, with peer staff meeting everyone who arrives and supporting people through their time at the centre. This workforce and approach mean people attending in crisis have a very different experience of seeking support. We will share qualitative experience of service feedback that tells us that people feel welcome, in the right place, safe, heard, and are able to make a genuine connection with people who care about their wellbeing.
Holding peer space within a system dominated by biomedical constructs is however, not without challenge. The whole team has had to create space to recognise, value and negotiate what the peer workforce brings, what the work is, and to learn together what the peer stance delivers. This process is one of ongoing learning, for everyone, as we renegotiate power, resist typical hierarchies and ways of working, and find our feet. Remaining attuned to our guiding philosophy of care, listening carefully to what people want and need in these moments of distress, checking in with people’s experience of support and taking time to reflect on and hone our approach is building confidence in the team, the community and the system.
We will conclude with recommendations about processes that have supported the successful embedding of the peer workforce and the holding of peer space at the Centre. There will be no sugar coating of the challenge, but we hope to make the benefits obvious, and to set the stage for these approaches to be more rigorously evaluated over the next few years.
PANEL PRESENTATION: Service-based Peer Workforce Development at Northern Sydney Local Health District Mental Health Drug & Alcohol
Tamara Northey, Francesca Coniglio
Over the last five years, the Northern Sydney Local Health District (NSLHD) Mental Health Drug & Alcohol (MHDA) service-based Peer Workforce has expanded in size and into new areas of practice. Workforce structures and development are critical in supporting the effectiveness of the Peer Workforce in their roles. Developed by the service based Peer Workers, their managers, and the Engagement Manager, MHDA (who is responsible for the strategic and professional development of the Consumer Peer Workforce), the MHDA Service Based Peer Workforce Development Plan has guided the focus and implementation of workforce development for Peer Workers based in mental health and drug and alcohol services. The objectives of the Development Plan have included:
• Increase the number of Peer Worker roles;
• Support integration of Peer Worker roles in the multidisciplinary teams and support consistency of the Peer Worker roles across the District;
• Enhance the professional identity and profile of the Peer Workforce;
• Share the richness and expertise of the Peer Workforce across the profession and wider MHDA Workforce.
The development work has supported the growth of the service-based Peer Workforce and increased recognition of the value of their lived expertise and leadership towards service delivery and development.
PANEL PRESENTATION: Drop In Care Space: lived experience at the forefront of community care
Sonny Jane Wise
Drop In Care Space Inc is a unique community centre in Adelaide, South Australia that provides a drop in community space, peer support and access to activities as well as resources to individuals experiencing distress or isolation.
Our mission is to strengthen our community by fostering greater opportunities for people to thrive, celebrate their identity and lived experience, and ultimately build resources and skills to reduce isolation and distress.
Drop In Care Space was founded in 2020 by Sonny Jane, a queer, physically disabled, autistic ADHDer with lived experience who was practising as a peer counsellor at the time while noticing there was something missing in the community. Navigating their own experiences with mental health, gender and neurodivergence led them to recognising the need for community spaces that exist where we can find other individuals who get it, feel less alone and find ways to help ourselves before we reach a point of distress or crisis.
After consulting with other peers in the community and noticing a significant gap in the system, Sonny Jane went ahead and opened the Drop In Care Space with the hope that this model could eventually be implemented around Australia.
Our goal is to increase accessibility to activities, events, resources and community spaces that promote connection and a sense of belonging. We believe this is a significant contributor in reducing distress and isolation in communities who are marginalised by society and left out of community spaces.
This presentation will explore the different aspects of the community centre that make the Drop In Care Space unique including the lived experience leadership, the membership model, the peer support, activities, partnerships and engagement within the community. We will outline the key learnings of our service so far as well as the areas that we are thriving in and the current challenges we are overcoming.
PANEL PRESENTATION: MakeShift: A Creativity on Prescription 8-week Program for Injured Workers
Caitlin Marshall, Lizzie Rose, Caroline McLaren
ReMind was a pilot program that aimed to achieve Return-to-Life outcomes for injured workers in NSW Australia. These injured workers had experienced a primary or secondary psychological injury at work. Four 8-week courses (one face-to-face and three online) were delivered to 41 participants between April 2019 and February 2021. Due to COVID-19, the program was converted to an online delivery model for three of the courses. The purpose of the evaluation was to understand how well the ReMind pilot program was implemented and how effective the program was improving participant wellbeing and reducing poor mental health.
The survey tools selected for this were based on the research to date in the field of social prescribing (Polley, 2017), including PHQ-9, GAD-7, SWEMWEBS and the Modified EQ-5D-3L.
Participants scored their overall physical and mental health significantly higher after completing the program (on WEMWEBS and Modified EQ-5D-3L) than before. Participants also displayed significant improvement in depression (PHQ-9) and anxiety (GAD-7). The effect on anxiety was not statistically significant and warrants further investigation, as the trends indicate this would likely become a reliable finding with a larger sample size. At the end of the program, participants cited better ability to deal with problems and make up their own mind, improved confidence and emotional awareness.
Based on the findings of this evaluation, there is evidence that the ReMind program is beneficial for injured workers in supporting trauma recovery and offering increased skills in self- and co-regulation to support Readiness for Return-To-Work outcomes.