Can a carer (peer) led psychoeducation programme improve mental health carers well-being, reduce burden and enrich empowerment: a service evaluation study

Chiocchi, John, Lamph, Gary orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-4099-2812, Slevin, Paula, Smith, Debrah and Sampson, Mark (2019) Can a carer (peer) led psychoeducation programme improve mental health carers well-being, reduce burden and enrich empowerment: a service evaluation study. Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice, 14 (2). pp. 131-140. ISSN 1755-6228

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Purpose: Carers of people with mental health problems present with high levels of burden, poor mental wellbeing and feelings of disempowerment by mental health services. The aim of this study was to establish whether providing a
psychoeducation skills programme for carers would lead to an improvement of mental wellbeing, reduce the levels of burden that carers sometimes feel in caring for someone with mental illness, and also to increase empowerment. This paper provides a service evaluation study of an innovative carer led psychoeducational intervention that was undertaken.
Design/ Methodology/ Approach: This programme was initiated and led by a carer who had themselves experienced a lack of service provision to support carers and families in understanding and caring for a relative with severe and enduring mental
health diagnoses. A model of co-production was adopted with the carer who led this initiative working closely with an occupational therapist and consultant psychologist in its development and delivery. Data was collected to measure the impact of the training at 5 different time points. The measures employed to measure outcomes were the Warwick- Edinburgh Mental Well-Being Scale (WEMWEBS), the Burden Assessment Scale (BAS) and Family Empowerment Scale (FES).
Findings: Results indicated improved well-being, reduced burden and increased family empowerment in carers who completed this peer led carer initiative psychoeducational programme.
Research Limitations/ Implications: This service evaluation study was conducted in a single site and in the site in which it was developed. The carer consultant who led this evaluation and development of the intervention was also the peer worker
who delivered the interventions. Hence, we are unable to ascertain if the results reported are unique to the individual peer worker. The transferability of this programme and generalisability of the result should therefore be treated with caution
and further replication of this model and research is required. This would be beneficial to be conducted in an alternative site from where it was developed, delivered by different facilitators and include a control group.
Practical Implications: The evidence from this study indicates that carers are able and willing to attend a group psychoeducational programme. The high number of referrals to the programme in a relatively short timeframe, indicates that there is significant demand for such a service. Implementation of the programme is relatively straight forward. The key challenges for practical implementation are to have the of Mental Health Training, Education and Practiceright carer to lead and deliver the programme, and the right support system in place for them (financial and supervision). Co-production also is not without challenges, the peer worker and occupational staff need to ensure mutually valued and respected working relationship develop.
Originality Value: This is the first evaluation of the impact of a carer led psychoeducation intervention for carers of people with mental health difficulties in secondary mental health services.

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