‘Peer CARE Companion in Community’ provides a ‘golden thread’ of trained and supported community members with lived experience of suicide known as Peer CARE Companions. The volunteer-based service strengthens the existing network of suicide prevention services including aftercare, postvention and safe spaces, and address service and support gaps in community by providing ‘light touch’ peer support and connection.
Roses in the Ocean piloted this project, which is being evaluated through the Telethon Kids Institute, in the Peel and Rockingham Kwinana (PaRK) region of Western Australia in 2021/22. With in-principle support from a number of key suicide prevention service providers, the pilot focused on supplementing postvention services initially through collaborations with Anglicare WA and StandBY Support After Suicide.
Roses in the Ocean is now expanding this trial to four regional sites (Perth, Western Australia, Cairns and Hinterland Queensland, Northern NSW and Western NSW, developing formal partnerships with both national and local service providers to enable collaboration and integration of Peer CARE Companions with existing community supports
Peer CARE Companion in Community will:
- provide an agile, responsive face-to-face support network of Peer CARE Companions in communities across Australia who will enhance a range of existing services and fill needs gaps.
- be committed to an assets-based approach to developing community capacity, supporting local communities to Identify what is already working well, provide resources to further strengthen its existing assets, and build capacity for local community members to develop complementary supports.
- address issues of loneliness and social isolation exacerbated for many through the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as other marginalised groups in our communities.
- develop the capability of local community members to be a readily available resource that can be flexibly deployed for a range of applications, including:
- supplementary volunteer peer workforce for aftercare services
- ongoing connection and ‘light touch’ support for aftercare clients beyond the 3-month limitation of the service
- Peer CARE Companion Warmline
- supplementary volunteer peer workforce for postvention services – co-ordination of or contribution to practical support to community members after suicide loss – making meals, walking pets, coffee catch ups
- Peer CARE Companion warmline
- Safe Spaces
- additional resourcing for safe spaces
- service navigation for people in distress
- accompany guests of safe space to other services they are connected to
- related isolation companionship
- encouragement to engage in social activities in community
- Older persons
- accompanying older persons to access social groups or services
- ‘light touch’ peer community in-reach
- companionship in aged care residencies
- Family, partners, friends supporting loved ones
- support and service navigation for carers of people in suicidal crisis
- service navigation
- General Community
- community event support, awareness raising and stigma reduction initiatives
- service navigation
- in-reach service for people who struggle to connect with services
- Addressing loneliness & need for connection
- companionship to increase connection and combat loneliness in community
- connection for people impacted by isolation of COVID-19 and natural disasters
Training & support for Peer CARE Companions
All Roses in the Ocean Peer CARE Companions receive SP Peer Worker (volunteer) training designed and delivered to equip people with lived experience of suicide with the confidence and skills to provide peer connection and support, both face to face, over the phone and online.
Through the Federal Budget 2021 expansion commitment, Roses in the Ocean will train and support a diverse and inclusive network of Peer CARE Companions such that local community members with a lived experience of suicide have the requisite skills to meet the unique local and cultural needs of people impacted by suicide in their own communities.
All Peer CARE Companion members are required to hold the relevant jurisdictional Vulnerable Person’s card and complete and comprehensove onboarding process including an initial ‘readiness’ call with a Roses in the Ocean Readiness Call team member to explore their readiness and present suitability for a volunteer peer role.
Online self-paced (refresher) training modules are under development to support ongoing skill development and refresher training.
Peer CARE Companions are supported through Roses in the Ocean’s established Suicide Prevention Peer Workforce team who deliver training and specialised Suicide Prevention (SP) Peer Workforce Support Services. Monthly Group Co-reflections and access to Senior Peer Workers.
Regional Peer CARE Companion Coordinators support statewide networks and lead regional Communities of Practice.
Clinical supervision is available for Peer CARE Companions & Coordinators as required.