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Effective Peer Employment Within Multidisciplinary Organizations: Model for Best Practice

Abstract

This study sought a clearer understanding of organizational mechanisms reinforcing effective peer employment and organizational change from the perspectives of peer workers, non-peer staff and management in multidisciplinary mental health and substance use recovery services. Findings were used to develop a model for organizational best practice for peer employment and associated organizational change to promote recovery-oriented and person-directed services. Qualitative research was undertaken, involving 132 people participating in 14 focus groups and eight individual interviews. These people were employed across five U.S. multidisciplinary organizations providing mental health and substance use recovery services and deemed by a panel of experts to provide effective employment of peer workers. Study findings include the articulation of an interactive working model of best practice, comprising organizational commitment, organizational culture and effective organizational strategies necessary for a “whole-of-organization” approach to support authentic peer work and enable organizational transformation, to actualize recovery-oriented values and person-driven services. Strategies include Human Resources engagement, peers in positions of senior organizational authority, recurring whole of workforce training, along with peer training and peer-led supervision. Findings suggest whole-of-organization commitment, culture and practice are essential for the organizational transformation needed to support effective employment of peers in multidisciplinary environments.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. Medicaid is a United States federal and state-sponsored health insurance program that assists low-income individuals with paying for their healthcare costs, including reimbursement for mental health peer support services (Denigan-Macauley, 2018).

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Acknowledgements

The authors gratefully acknowledge support and guidance from members of the advisory group of this study; Laysha Ostrow, Bevin Croft, Chris Hansen, Rita Cronise, Robyn Priest, Lori Tannenbaum, Beatrice Dixon, Chacku Mathai and Jana Spalding. The authors also acknowledge Nev Jones for valuable assistance.

Funding

This research was supported by the Australian-American Fulbright Commission.

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LB conceived and designed the research, conducted data collection, contributed to data analysis and led the writing and revision of the paper. HR conducted analysis and assisted writing and revision of the paper. JW, AL and DF were all members of the advisory group and all contributed to writing and revision of the paper. LD contributed to the project design, provided the host institution and contributed to the writing and revision of the paper. CB assisted with project design, leading the IRB process and contributed to writing and revision of the paper.

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Correspondence to Louise Byrne.

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Byrne, L., Roennfeldt, H., Wolf, J. et al. Effective Peer Employment Within Multidisciplinary Organizations: Model for Best Practice. Adm Policy Ment Health 49, 283–297 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10488-021-01162-2

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Keywords

  • Peer work
  • Best practices
  • Systems transformation
  • Lived experience
  • Recovery-orientation
  • Organizational culture