Thousands of pounds is being invested into new peer support roles at a local NHS Trust to support people with their mental health care and recovery.
The £30,000 investment was awarded to Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CWP) by Health Education England North West, as part of its programme for workforce transformation, supporting a bid to test new and enhanced working practices.
So far, seven people have been trained and recruited into peer support volunteer roles to work alongside people who access services and health professionals. The money will be used to develop and deliver accredited training for more than 30 peer support roles by the end of 2017.
National evidence and local experience has demonstrated that support from a ‘peer’ - someone who has personal lived experience of similar health conditions - can have a hugely positive impact on patient experience and well-being. The support is available for people who access mental health services and is in addition to clinical support from health professionals.
Simon Hough, CWP’s first peer support volunteer and co- chair of the trust steering group and lead trainer, said: “I have lived with schizophrenia for most of my life so have first-hand experience that I can draw on to give hope and support to others. Being a peer support volunteer is massively rewarding and is also beneficial to my well-being. It has given me my confidence back and helps me to help others get the support they need.”
CWP director of nursing and therapies Avril Devaney said: “This funding will help us to make this invaluable support more widely available. What’s important for CWP is that people with lived experience are integral to shaping, guiding and developing this work so that it is truly co-produced and person-centred.”
Ken Edwards, from CWP Clinical Education, added: “With an emphasis on building confidence and communication skills, the Peer Support role has potential to become a pathway into employment for people who are looking for this. After completing the training and building their confidence and skills two peer support volunteers have already gone on to secure full time employment.”