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Peer Support:

The Peer Employment Learning Center (PELC) in Action

PELC in Action

This episode relates to Peer Support Services in a MHOTRS clinic because it demonstrates that recovery is possible for everyone, regardless of their situation. And it takes effort to start a new program and keep it growing. But it is worth it. See the excitement this trail blazing program has initiated and is continuing to create. Hear from the experts about implementing and nurturing transformative peer support programs that embody recovery, and the difference they make in the lives of the participants, families, and staff.  Join us.  See why this program is growing and why you need to be part of the movement.

In this video/podcast, Lori Ashcraft interviews Robyn Gross about the pilot of a PELC initiative at her facility. PELC stands for the Peer Employment Learning Center.  It is a pioneering program of Crestwood Behavioral Health where residents/patients on conservatorship (those with the most challenges and greatest need for support) are trained as certified peer specialists. This transformative program consists of an 80-hour peer support specialist class followed by a 100-hour paid internship.  

Robyn Gross is the administrator for the Crestwood Mental Health Rehabilitation Center (MHRC) campus in San Diego, CA. Her visionary leadership and belief in the power of peer support led her to pilot the first PELC program.  In this interview, Robyn shares a transparent and vulnerable account on how her team implemented the PELC and transformed it from a thought into reality.  The pilot culminated in 2021 with a graduation of 18 participants, of which 10 work in paid peer specialist positions.

The transforming power in the program graduation

Robyn shares the transforming power program graduations have on the participants and staff.  Recovery is on full display when graduates and families share their moving stories, and this transforms the organization and staff.  As staff see the participants develop and improve, morale gets a significant boost as it lets the staff know that what they are doing makes a real and significant difference in people’s lives.

The lifecycle of a new program

In addition to an incredible interview with Robyn Gross, Lori Ashcroft goes on to share her insights about the life cycle of a new program or project. Lori has led and been instrumental in many peer specialist programs through the years so she has a few thoughts about what works and what doesn’t. In this episode she shares that when you start something new, there is a lot of energy and excitement.  Then, there is a point at which the energy starts to go down. It won’t grow unless you continue to nurture it.  Creativity is what maintains the energy…how can we improve it, how can we get more partners, and how can we take it to the next level.

© 2024, Crestwood Recovery Resilience Solutions, All rights reserved.
Viva La Evolution #011 – Interview by Lori Ashcraft. Used with permission.
Summary provided by Stephen Nawotniak, Alliance for Rights and Recovery (formerly NYAPRS). 

About Viva La Evolution and Crestwood

Developed by Crestwood Behavioral Health
With Contributions by the Alliance for Rights and Recovery (formerly New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services)
For PeerTAC
Funded by the New York State Office of Mental Health