Quality statement 4: Peer and lay roles

Quality statement

Members of the local community are actively recruited to take on peer and lay roles for health and wellbeing initiatives.

Rationale

Community members who take on 'peer and lay' roles give people in their community support and advice, and assist with or organise activities to promote health and wellbeing. People in community peer and lay roles also play an important part as 'connectors', relaying community opinion to providers as well as reaching people who are not in touch with services or are socially isolated. They can be supported to use their skills, knowledge, life experience, cultural awareness and social connections to communicate with other members of their community in a way that people understand.

Quality measures

Structure

a) Evidence of local arrangements to actively recruit members of the community to take on peer and lay roles for local health and wellbeing initiatives.

Data source: Local data collection.

b) Evidence of local specification of the roles and responsibilities of members of the community taking on peer and lay roles.

Data source: Local data collection.

c) Evidence of local arrangements to support members of the community taking on peer and lay roles to fulfil these roles.

Data source: Local data collection.

Outcome

a) Community members are provided with information and support to improve their health and wellbeing by members of the same community or from people with similar backgrounds.

Data source: Local data collection.

b) Effective communication between statutory, community and voluntary organisations and members of the local community.

Data source: Local data collection.

c) Community members in peer and lay roles are actively involved in organising and delivering health and wellbeing initiatives.

Data source: Local data collection.

What the quality statement means for different audiences

Service providers (primary care services, community care services and services in the wider public, private, community and voluntary sectors) ensure that they recruit members of the local community who can take on peer and lay roles. Once people have been recruited, service providers give them the ongoing training and support they need to fulfil their responsibilities and reach their full potential.

Commissioners (community and voluntary sector organisations and statutory services) ensure that they dedicate resources to recruiting members of the local community to peer and lay roles and to providing the ongoing training and support they need to fulfil their responsibilities and reach their full potential.

Members of local communities are given support and information by other members of their own community who are working closely with organisations that provide health and wellbeing initiatives. These local people can also represent the interests and concerns of the community to these organisations.

Source guidance

Community engagement: improving health and wellbeing and reducing health inequalities (2016) NICE guideline NG44, recommendation 1.3.1

Definitions of terms used in this quality statement

Community

A community is a group of people who have common characteristics or interests. Communities can be defined by: geographical location, race, ethnicity, age, occupation, a shared interest or affinity (such as religion and faith) or other common bonds, such as health need or disadvantage. People who are socially isolated are also considered to be a community group.
[NICE's guideline on community engagement]

Health and wellbeing initiatives

Health and wellbeing initiatives cover all strategies, programmes, services, activities, projects or research that aim to improve health (physical and mental) and wellbeing and reduce health inequalities.
[NICE's guideline on community engagement]

Peer and lay roles

'Peer and lay roles' are carried out by community members working in a non‑professional capacity to support health and wellbeing initiatives. 'Lay' is the general term for a community member. 'Peer' describes a community member who shares similar life experiences to the community they are working with. Peer and lay roles may be paid or unpaid (that is, voluntary).

Effective peer and lay approaches are:

  • Bridging roles to establish effective links between statutory, community and voluntary organisations and the local community and to determine which types of communication would most effectively help get people involved.

  • Carrying out 'peer interventions'. That is, training and supporting people to offer information and support to others, either from the same community or from similar backgrounds.

  • Community health champions who aim to reach marginalised or vulnerable groups and help them get involved.

  • Volunteer health roles whereby community members get involved in organising and delivering activities.

[NICE's guideline on community engagement]

Equality and diversity considerations

People in local communities may experience a range of barriers such as language, literacy, numeracy, low income, access to transport, childcare, digital exclusion and many others. Members of the community who take on peer and lay roles could support people to overcome these barriers and get involved with health and wellbeing initiatives.