Peer support models

Peer support can be offered in many different ways. There are therefore many ways to define and describe these different models of delivery.

These are the different models of peer support as defined for the purposes of the Hub. This is not designed to be an authority on peer support definitions and is instead only to be used as a tool to help find certain types of resources within the Hub.

It is also worth noting that there will also be differences within each model of peer support listed below. No two peer support offers are the same. For example some might hire paid staff and provide extensive training to the peers, where others are far less structured and operate more independently.

Peer Support Models

Term description:

Peer support provided by a group of people without the backing of any national resources. It is mostly peer led and voluntary rather than being facilitated by a paid for third party. An example is a singular peer support group, run only by its own members that has no formal legal status. It is not being supported by a national charity or funded by their local healthcare authority.

Term description:

Includes resources that discuss the core principles of all types of peer support regardless of the format or method of its delivery.

Term description:

Peer support that is offered between two individuals. Methods of support are diverse, ranging from informal befriending and social support to the more structured and solution-focused mentoring approaches. It is normally supported to some degree by an independent third party who pairs people together based on what support an individual is looking for.

Term description:

Peer support that is offered using digital tools or methods. It can be in a one-to-one or group format but is delivered without there being any in person or face to face contact.

Websites and forums are sometimes moderated by either members of staff or trained volunteers but this is not always the case. Moderators will often ensure that conversations follow the group’s rules, safeguarding issues are reported and any spam is removed.

Due to the accessibility of the internet, the reach of the programme can be global but can equally be restricted to specified groups of people on a smaller scale.

Term description:

Any other specific peer support model that is not reflected in the rest of the definitions.

Term description:

Any peer support that requires a fee in order to get access. It includes peer support that is provided by professionally trained and paid facilitators who do not necessarily have personal experience of the theme being looked at. This can also include online groups that require a paid membership and/or have discussions that are regulated by trained moderators.

For the purposes of the Hub we also include peer brokerage schemes in this definition, whereby an individual is supported one to one by a peer in order to do a specific task such as apply for a disability benefit, or create a financial budget. In this instance the peer in question may be a volunteer but is likely to have had specific training in being able to provide such practical support to someone else.

Term description:

Peer support offered in a group setting. Groups are normally centred around a theme such as a shared medical diagnosis, a shared experience (e.g. being LGBT), or a shared interest (e.g. a gardening group). Groups can be structured, organised and facilitated in different ways. They can operate independently or as part of a wider network of groups.

Term description:

Peer support that is embedded and integrated into a health system pathway, including inpatient peer support. It is often delivered in a hospital or similar clinical setting and is accessed via a referral from a doctor or other healthcare professional. While the support offered is not always facilitated by medical personnel, it is often funded as part of a course of treatment by the NHS (or similar body in international or private healthcare situations).