I am a “peer guide, employed to offer peer support in a disease model state hospital. I’ve been trained in Shery Mead’s model of Intentional Peer Supports (IPS) with its Four Pillars. I’ve been at the hospital over a year but still do not get to have contact with residents on the units. I can welcome them in the Admissions Department,but I cannot do any follow up on the units with them.
Editor’s Note: This first appeared www.madinamerica.com as a comment on Ken Braiterman’s blog about peer support in disease model facilities. With a different hospital administration, focusing on trauma and distress, not medication, Ken does peer support with inpatients one hour a week.
There is another peer worker in the same hospital who has never been trained in anything. Their idea is that, as long as you’ve had experience in the system. you can be a peer worker.
He’s assigned to an adult unit and does mentoring on the adolescent units. He believes strongly in the drugs, and uses every opportunity to get residents to develop the same devotion to the drugs he has. I am for freedom of choice in treatment. He is allowed direct access to residents, and I am not. I suspect that it’s due to his view of “treatment” as opposed to mine.
Although our services as peer workers here are not paid by Medicare, the situation shows how peers are coopted and used by the system rather than allowing the mutual, human relationships to develop that are crucial for true peer support.
I work in what is called the Department of Consumer Services. When I had a supervisor, it was a department of two people. She would not allow the other peer worker in because he had no training. She has since left the hospital for another position, leaving me as a department of one person with no supervisor and no job description.
I was told after she left that the job description she wrote for me was not “workable.” So, I sit in an office all day with no department, no supervisor, and no job description.
I’ve asked for resolution to the situation, and four moths later I’m still sitting here. This particular disease model hospital wants nothing to do with true peer support workers, who strive to work in the model that Shery developed. Sometimes, I wonder if they are waiting for me to quit. Other times, I think about how much I could help people here with real peer support if they ever allow me to do my job, and decide to hang on in case the situation change peer in a