Self-directed Support Peer Support Workers: What should the employee and employer expect of each other?

What are the expectations of an employer from a peer worker in Self-directed Support?

An employer would expect the peer worker to have a good knowledge and understanding of Self-directed Support. An employer would expect to treat any peer worker the same as any other worker thus having appraisals and staff meetings regularly. They would expect a peer worker to have good timekeeping skills and to be flexible. They would expect the peer worker to have been free from illicit substances for 2 years and be a champion in recovery. The potential employee would have to fit the criteria asked for in the job advertisement such as being able to give examples of what their SDS was used for and how it helped make a difference in their life.

An employer will ask the peer worker to demonstrate a positive attitude and contribute to the job. Reliability is a must in this position as it shows the person who they are supporting that they are dedicated. Empathy and treating the person they are supporting with respect would be equally important as would showing confidentiality. The employer would also expect the peer worker to be able to learn new things and ways that would help the person whom they are supporting.

An employer would expect a peer worker to do on going training and to be able to share their lived experiences to enhance and help the others taking part in the training. 

A peer worker would have to be truthful about their recovery and be able to show skills and all the values needed for the position including boundaries and how to keep themselves safe. An employer would also expect the peer worker to be able to be strong enough to be around people who are still using illicit substances and recognise boundaries.

What are the expectations of a peer worker from an employer?

A SDS peer worker would expect their employer to treat them with respect and like any other member of their staff. They would expect to receive ongoing training and be kept up to date with any changes. A peer worker would expect to be given an induction and a list of the codes and practices for the company. An employer should be able to provide team building exercises and interact so that a peer worker can get to know other members of staff and build up a good relationship with them. Employers should be able to give the peer worker regular supervision and have “an open door" policy so they feel that they can approach management if they have any issues. A peer worker would expect their employer to discuss and make them aware of any differences and changes relating to Self-directed Support.

A peer worker should be able to know a bit about the background of a person whom they are supporting therefore a supervisor or manager should provide relevant information. An employer should train the peer worker on the protocol on when someone they are supporting displays dangerous or exploitative behaviour. 

Employers should be willing to listen and advise the peer worker on situations as they arise. Employers should also encourage the peer workers and use them as “Experts by Experience” in training with non peer workers therefore giving the best chance of peer support benefiting the workplace.