PEER SUPPORT PROGRAM GUIDELINES

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1 PEER SUPPORT PROGRAM GUIDELINES Guidelines for participants in the Occupational Therapy Australia SA Peer Support Program. Occupational Therapy Australia Limited ABN ACN SA Division 12/60 North East Rd Walkerville, SA 5081 Ph Fax Website

2 CONTENTS What is the Peer Support Programme? Page 3 How does Peer Support Work? Page 3 What are the Potential Benefits of Peer Support? Page 3 Is Peer Support for Me? Page 4 Roles, Responsibilities and Guidelines Page 4 Establishing the Relationship Page 6 Problem Solving Page 7 Ending the Partnership Page 7 Accredited OT program Page 8 Acknowledgements Page 8 Peer Support Agreement Page 9 Peer Support Record Page 10 Development Plan Page 11 References Page 12 Peer Support Program Guidelines 2

3 What is the Peer Support Program? Peer support is a process where therapists with similar amounts of experience work together to reflect on practice, learn from each other and grow professionally through the relationship. It recognises that experienced therapists may benefit from a non-supervisory link with another OT (Wilding, Marais-Strydom and Teo 2003), and that relatively new graduates may feel more comfortable problem-solving professional issues and grappling with their transition to the workforce with another new graduate (Steenberger and MacKenzie 2004; Tryssenaar and Perkins 2001). The Peer Support Program was developed by OT Australia (SA) to complement other avenues of professional support such as CPD events and Interest Groups. Peer Support is not designed to be a substitute for supervision. However it may be particularly useful for OTs working in the following situations: Sole practitioners OTs supervised by non-ots OTs working in an unusual or non-traditional role OTs changing areas of practice OTs whose line supervisor is not well placed to provide specific skills input (Kavanagh and Spence 2003). Peer Support may be a useful option for OTs, as part of their professional development plan which is likely to be required for registration under the Occupational Therapy Practice Act (2005). How does the Peer Support Program Work? The Peer Support Program can work in either of two ways: (1) If you are seeking a peer but don t know who to approach, you can complete the relevant application (electronically or a paper copy) and send it to OT Australia (SA). We will then endeavour to match you with a suitable peer. (2) You may choose to find your own peer and then use the OT Australia (SA) paperwork to formalise the arrangement. In either case it is the responsibility of the peers to set and review goals and decide how best to meet these goals. Peer Support Program Guidelines 3

4 After assisting with making the initial peer match, OT Australia SA s only further role will be to seek feedback about the process after 12 months unless participants seek assistance to address any problematic issues which arise. What are the potential benefits of Peer Support As with any process of professional development, the benefits depend on how well you make the process work for you. Some of the possible benefits include the opportunity to: share your experiences, knowledge and skills with others, for mutual enhancement of clinical and professional practice develop new networks with OTs working in similar clinical areas maintain your professional currency by increasing knowledge of clinical assessment/ intervention trends develop your career, by a formal and structured process of goal setting and review jointly problem-solving unusually complex or novel clinical issues reduce professional isolation for sole practitioners or OTs supervised by non-ots accumulate AccOT points (note: as at January 2008 the AccOT programme is under review and confirmation has been sought about the contribution of peer support to AccOT points) Contribute to meeting the requirements for registration under the Occupational Therapy Practice Act (2005), provided that Peer Support is identified as a mechanism to meet goals identified in your Professional Development Plan. access professional development with minimal impact on your availability for client contact access and improve the evidence base for clinical OT practice Is Peer Support suitable for me? To assist in determining whether the Peer Support Model is appropriate for you at this stage, we suggest you consider the following questions prior to seeking a Peer Support Agreement: Peer Support Program Guidelines 4

5 Do you have clear goals for the program? Do you have clear expectations about the frequency and duration of meetings? Do you have the capacity to make a regular time commitment, both for meetings and also for follow up work outside meetings? Would you prefer meeting face to face vs. phone or contact? What are your expectations about confidentiality? Would you prefer a 1:1 peer support process or a small group process? How could Peer Support assist you to meet the goals you have identified in your PDR? Is Peer Support likely to be an efficient way to address PDR goals? Roles, Responsibilities and Guidelines Please also refer to the Peer Support Program Policies and the Agreement The following principles are important in establishing your expectations: (1) Acknowledge areas in which you wish to improve your skills and use this as a basis for establishing appropriate goals. (2) Set goals which are specific, measurable, and achievable; and review them within a set time frame. (3) Provide honest, constructive feedback and remain non judgmental (4) Maintain confidentiality. According to the Occupational Therapy Code of Professional Conduct and Practice (Occupational Therapy Board 2007) it is acceptable to work collaboratively to promote the well being of clients however client confidentiality must be respected at all times (Clause 2.3.c). (5) Encourage problem solving. A peer support relationship allows you to work collaboratively with other occupational therapists. However note that the Code of Professional Conduct and Practice clearly specifies that registrants are responsible for their own actions (clause 3.1). Peer support does not remove your responsibility for your clinical decision making or substitute for your usual supervisory relationship. Peer Support Program Guidelines 5

6 (6) Utilise resources, professional development activities and networks to increase your knowledge base and skill level. (7) Be clear and realistic about the time you can commit to the partnership. Establishing the Peer Support Relationship The applicant is responsible for making contact once advised by OT AUSTRALIA SA of the potential link. Peers need to negotiate meeting times/ frequency of meetings / method of communication, complete the Peer Support Agreement and return it to OT AUSTRALIA SA. Draw up your development plan and learning goals. Discuss your expectations of the peer support relationship. Consider ways to get to know your peer. Possibilities include sending a resume/ autobiography, meeting face to face, arranging peer shadowing. You may find frequent regular contact useful initially (e.g. 1hour/ fortnight over the first few months). Once you get to know each other contact could be less frequent. The method of communication is up to both partners and can include face to face meetings, telephone, teleconference/ videoconference, videotape or audiotape, . It is suggested that all meetings (whether face to face or via telephone) include an agenda and are prepared for prior to the meeting. Both partners in the relationship need to take responsibility for making it work. Consider incorporating the Peer Support Plan (PSP) into any existing work performance development planning processes. You are likely to find that your PSP is more effective if it is acknowledged and supported by your employer (Balatti, Edwards and Andrew 1997). You could also use your PSP to enhance your Professional Development Plan as part of the registration requirement under the Occupational Therapy Practice Act (2005). The role of OT Australia SA in this programme is to assist occupational therapists to find a suitable peer support person. OT Australia SA is not responsible for the supervision of the therapists or either therapist s actions in the relationship. These are matters for the individual therapists to resolve. Peer Support Program Guidelines 6

7 Peer Support Program Guidelines 7

8 Problem Solving The expectation of peers needs to be established at the beginning of the partnership to prevent any misunderstandings and future conflict. Be realistic and honest about the time you have available Deal with any problems promptly and honestly Listen and act on feedback from each other Try to work toward a no blame solution If the conflict cannot be resolved within the partnership then either participant can contact OT AUSTRALIA SA for support and advice. If irresolvable the partnership may need to end at this stage and either participant can reapply for a new peer. Ending the Partnership The peer partnership may be ended for various reasons and both participants agree to a no fault conclusion at the commencement of the relationship. The partnership can end after the completion of the timeframe for the mentoring agreement or if requested by either participant. Peer Support Program Guidelines 8

9 Accredited OT program OT Australia National has developed the Accredited OT program to recognise Occupational Therapists who maintain the currency of their knowledge and skills through participating in continuing professional development activities (OT Australia 2000). OT Australia National has recognised the important role of mentoring in contributing to professional development and has allocated points for both mentoring and being a mentee. OT Australia SA is in the process of requesting that participation in the peer support program be given the same recognition as mentoring in the Acc OT program. Appropriate records need to be kept to claim points (refer to AccOT manual for greater details and CPD point allocation). Note that as at January 2008 the AccOT programme is under review and confirmation of the contribution of Peer Support to AccOT points has been sought. Acknowledgements OT Australia (SA) has drawn from the Mentor Programme policies and guidelines of OT Australia (Vic) and OT Australia (Qld) in developing its Peer Support Programme Guidelines. We acknowledge and value their support. Peer Support Program Guidelines 9

10 Peer Support Agreement This document is not a legal contract but is aimed at establishing agreed roles and plans in the peer support relationship. Roles we have read the roles and responsibilities in the program guidelines and undertake to meet those roles in this partnership. We both agree to Maintain confidentiality re our peer support agreement and meeting discussions unless otherwise agreed Contact OT AUSTRALIA SA if support is required for problem solving / conflict resolution Have a no- fault conclusion to our relationship at any time either of us may want to end the mentoring partnership Plan Meeting Times: Frequency of Contact: Method of contact: Duration of Agreement: Amount of notice required if changes to meeting times: Name Signature Name Signature Date Date Please complete form and return to: OT AUSTRALIA SA U12/60 North East Road Walkerville SA 5081 Peer Support Program Guidelines 10

11 Peer Support Record It is recommended that both OTs keep a record of the peer support activities to ensure time is spent effectively working toward the established goals. [If seeking Acc OT points a separate record is included in the AccOT folder and needs to be completed for Accreditation purposes as at January 2008 OT Australia National is yet to confirm recognition of Peer Support for Acc OT]. Date Time Spent Contact Method Activity/ Topic Outcome/ Action Peer Support Program Guidelines 11

12 Development Plan For period from / / to / / Consider the areas you would like to develop Current Skill level: Desired Skill level Action Plan Goal Plan Review Date: / / Name Signature Name Signature Date Date Peer Support Program Guidelines 12

13 QUESTIONS TO SUPPORT REFLECTIVE PRACTICE Taken from: Cross, V., Liles, C., Conduit, J & Price, J. (2004). Linking reflective practice to evidence of competence: A workshop for allied health professionals. Reflective Practice, 5(1), Feb. 1) Describe a recent experience in your professional life. 2) What did you do? 3) And why? 4) What went well? 5) And what could have been better? 6) What (if anything) would you now do differently, faced with a similar situation? 7) Describe what you learnt from this experience? (Learning outcomes). Pages (Consent obtained) Peer Support Program Guidelines 13

14 References Balatti, J, Edwards, J, Andrew, P (1997) mentoring structures within a professional development program Training and Development in Australia November pp Occupational Therapy Board of South Australia: Code of Professional Conduct. Accessed January Cross, V, Liles, C, Conduit, J and Price, J (2004) Linking reflective practice to evidence of competence: A workshop for allied health professionals. Reflective Practice 5 (1), pp Kavanagh, D Spence, S (2003) Supervision practices in allied mental health: relationships of supervision characteristics to perceived impact and job satisfaction Mental Health Services Research 5 (4) pp OT AUSTRALIA. (2000). Australian Association of Occupational Therapists National Policy Paper on Mentoring/ Supervision as Continuing Professional Development Activities in the Accredited Occupational Therapist Program. OT AUSTRALIA. OT AUSTRALIA Victoria. (2001). MentorLink. OT AUSTRALIA Victoria. Steenberger, K and MacKenzie, L. (2004). Professional support in rural NSW: Perceptions of new graduate OTs. Australian Journal of Rural Health, 12, Tryssenaar, J and Perkins, J (2001) From student to therapist: exploring the firs year of practice. American Journal of Occupational Therapy 55 (1) pp Wilding, C Marias-Strydom, E. & Teo, N. (2003). MentorLink: Empowering Occupational Therapists through mentoring. Australian Occupational Therapy Journal, 50, Peer Support Program Guidelines 14

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