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Putting the peer support principles into practice

Let’s think again about the scenario we previously described. Your friend has asked you to provide peer support to someone who has recently been diagnosed with the same long-term health condition as you. What might those peer support principles look like in practice ?

When providing help and guidance on a 1 to 1 basis, it’s important to follow the lead of the person you are supporting. For example, if you are in their house, you may ask whether they’d prefer you to remove your shoes or where they’d prefer you to sit.

You’ll probably start by introducing yourself. How you do this depends on how much you feel comfortable sharing about your own lived experience. It’s important to keep yourself safe and there shouldn’t be any expectation or pressure on you to share all the detail of your experience. As your relationship develops, you may slowly feel comfortable to share more information.

Don’t rush to get to talking about the ‘problem’. You can play it by ear and allow the conversation to flow in a way that helps you to get to know each other. Some people are nervous, and it can take a while to build up a rapport and trust.

You can also set some gentle boundaries. This is really important so we’ll look at maintaining healthy boundaries in a moment.

If a time hasn’t been agreed in advance, pay attention to cues as to when to wrap things up. You can offer to meet again, but it’s important the person doesn’t feel pressured.

As time goes on you may incorporate some activities into your peer support – e.g. visiting a coffee shop or going for a walk.

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Personalised Care: Peer Leadership Foundation - Step Two

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