A year ago, KBH invested in Peer Support Services that are “Putting the Neighbor Back in the Hood” via one conversation at a time. You might be asking yourself, how are we doing that?
Peer Support Partners (PSPs) work collaboratively with the people in the community to explore how we can discover more about ourselves and find new ways of relating, where we can learn to own and speak our truth while having big feelings. We learn to be vulnerable and share power with each other when the relating isn’t going well, so we can talk it through. We stay in observation, not easy when many of us have learned to be judgmental, evaluate or indicate the wrongness in others.
In these relationships, both parties step outside of the habit of faultfinding to build meaningful connections steeped in trust, by owning our feelings and the values that might be motivating us to feel what we are. In essence, we practice emotional self-regulation (Shery Mead PhD). Individuals work together on developing an emotional inventory and making a deeper connection to how physical responses can stifle or prevent maintaining friendships. They work together to find places to belong and getting or keeping employment.
PSPs work closely with interdisciplinary teams to connect with community members. They also bring another element to the teams work: one where we all practice having conversations that exclude diagnosis, symptoms or identifiers. One of the ethics of Intentional Peer Support (IPS) is “Nothing About Us Without Us” and when we talk about things, it is in the form of a situation or scenario.
This piece is the foundation of our work and it is something we practice because we value and long for it in our personal lives. What happens when this shift is incorporated into team meetings? We begin to share life experiences, build more compassion, see folks in a different way and the quality of all services improve while employee retention goes through the roof (Humanizing Health Care, Melanie Spears RN, MBA, PhD 2010).
We now have a full-time Peer Support Coordinator and part-time PSP in youth services, partnering with those ages14-30 years in Waterville. Two PSPs partner with adults in Augusta and a full-time PSP partners with adults in Waterville and Skowhegan. We have an opening for a Family PSP in the Augusta/Winthrop area and are currently interviewing for the Peer PATH Navigator in Outreach, working with community members that are unhoused. We hope to have that position filled by the end of the month.
The OHH has several Recovery Coaches that have also been trained in the practice of IPS, including their supervisor. PSPs have begun to reach into many areas of the Agency including the Access Center, ICM and CRS, all through the work being done with the CCBHC.
We are excited to see the impact Peer Support and Recovery Services will have as we move forward with “Putting the Neighbor Back in the Hood” one conversation at a time.