Background: Peer support has been used as a mechanism to facilitate active engagement with healthcare amongst underserved populations. The HepCare project upskilled experienced peer support workers (PSWs) to become equal members of a service provider team, taking on advanced clinical roles normally carried out by medical or nursing specialists. Method: A participatory case study approach was taken to the study following the methodological guidance of Merriam (1998). The subject of the case in our study is the advanced peer support workers (APSWs) functioning in the HepCare project as service providers. The object of the case is an exploration of their transition to service provider in the HCV screening and treatment support service. Five peer led in-depth interviews with APSWs were supplemented by a survey of health professionals, interviews with service users, documentary evidence in the form of job descriptions, observational notes and a blog from the field. Thematic analysis of the data was conducted, refined and finalised in a workshop with the research team and APSW participants. Results: Three themes were generated from the data that explore the peer support worker's transition to APSW in the programme: Transition to Integration, Retaining ‘Peerness’, and Practising Critical Resilience. The advocacy and support enacted by the APSWs through the HepCare project, offer purpose and meaning alongside integration into a new social group. This is buffered by the supportive context of the programme and facilitates a motivating sense of worth. Conclusion: The programme offers policy guidance for the structured career development of APSWs and a platform for enactment of critical resilience as they transition to their advanced role, in the healthcare provider team.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We would like to thank our partner organisations? Groundswell and the Hepatitis C Trust for their help in developing and undertaking this project; Jim Conneely for his advocacy on behalf of people living with hepatitis C; the Find&Treat team at UCLH NHS Trust; Vanessa Hack for project management support; The HepCare consortium and our funders the European Commission through its EU Third Health Programme (grant agreement number 709844), and University College London and University College London Hospitals NHS Trust.
- Critical resilience
- Hepatitis C
- Peer support workers
- Underserved populations