Bring together the elements from Step 01: Assess your readiness and decide on your development priorities and implementation strategies. Look at the information you have compiled so far:
- project purpose
- project scope statement
- project outcomes
- organisational readiness
- critical success factors.
Now that you have scoped your Peer Workforce Plan, nominated stakeholders and established your organisation’s readiness to implement a peer workforce, identify who among the stakeholder group will champion the initiative and get the necessary ‘buy in’ from other stakeholders. Start with a stakeholder engagement plan that considers all the stakeholders involved and how best to engage them in the process. You will find that different stakeholders require different levels of engagement in the Plan.
The people designated to champion the initiative can provide updates about ongoing work and get feedback from all stakeholders. Start a conversation across your organisation about why a peer workforce is needed and wanted. This will give you the opportunity to inform all your staff about best practices in peer work, and how these may impact and change current systems.
Consulting stakeholders will help to fine tune approaches, accommodate individual stakeholder priorities and address negative experiences before they undermine the project, enabling your plan to proceed more smoothly. By using the Stakeholder Engagement Planning Process Info Sheet below you will be able to nominate which stakeholders require levels of engagement and what the engagement activity may look like.
Profiling teams and workforce
When establishing a peer workforce it is important that it aligns with your overall workforce strategy and plans. Therefore before defining the peer workers roles that you will need, it is best to think about how they will be integrated into your existing workforce. You can do this by reviewing the characteristics of your current workforce and by identifying how peer workers will fit in and where they can contribute the most. The profile of your current workforce may include looking at the following factors:
- Job roles / classifications
- Full-time equivalent staff (FTE) and / or headcount (the actual number of employees)
- Gender mix
- Employment Status (full-time / part-time / casual)
- Age (including time to retirement)
- Cultural identity / Non-English Speaking Background
- Indigenous identity
- Existing qualifications of the workforce
- Staff turnover (overall or specific to job roles / classifications)
Specific information about individual employees typically collected during annual performance planning and reviews can also be systematically collated to inform peer workforce planning. This information may help you to identify skills gaps.
Once you understand the profile of your current workforce, think about your future needs to maintain service delivery.
Defining peer worker roles
The uniqueness of peer worker practice needs to be preserved when you define your peer worker roles. A good way to make sure this happens is to enlist experienced peer workers to draft your peer worker roles and position descriptions. Alternatively, you should consult with experienced peer workers through mental health consumer or family/carer representative organisations or via peer-run advisory services prior to drafting them. Bear in mind that peer worker roles are serious jobs that need to align with peer worker practice.
Peer workers have particular skills that you need to use. Don’t sideline peer workers because you don’t know what they should be doing. Recognise their skills and training, and give them relevant tasks. They are not there to do work that no one else wants to do or general tasks that anyone can do such as answering phones, filing or being a taxi driver.
Peer workers are not there to focus on a particular agenda (except the agenda of the person they are supporting). Do not see them as a way to get information for the rest of the team. Similarly, don’t define their activities by provider paperwork, such as treatment plans.
Be careful not to ask peer workers to do something that will increase the power imbalance (or the perception of power imbalance) between them and the person they’re supporting. For example, peer workers should not be asked to check and report on compliance with Community Treatment Orders, to make spending decisions about a person’s own money, provide opinions about how a person is functioning, complete assessments, or be asked to try and convince someone to do something they do not wish to do.