Peer support workers provide helping hand to local mental health services

by CWP News - 17 November 2015

People using a local NHS trust’s mental health services can tap into additional support from a dedicated peer support network.

Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust’s (CWP) peer support scheme is led by people who have used the services and who can offer their expert insight to support patients in their recovery journey. Their aim is to empower those using the services and offer them hope.

Currently there are five fully trained peer support volunteers who support people in services across the Trust – Rosewood ward at Bowmere Hospital in Chester, Lakefield at Springview Hospital in Clatterbridge, the Complex Assessment and Recovery Service (CARS) Millbrook Unit in Macclesfield and Lime Walk in Macclesfield.

CWP’s peer support volunteers have formed a strong network and provide support on a 1:1 basis or in a group setting. They work with people to set goals and use their lived experience to support the service user to achieve them to aid their recovery.

Simon Hough, from Vale Royal, is a peer support volunteer at CARS, Millbrook Unit in Macclesfield and Chair of the Trustwide Peer Steering Group. He says, “Realising my role to become a peer support volunteer was my first step in understanding the power of using my lived experience in supporting others. As a peer I understand my own journey and how that sharing this can help others in seeing there can be happier future.

“It can be a frightening time for patients and seeing someone that has also been frightened but now is in a better place can in some ways help kindle the fire of hope and the early footprints to their recovery. I walk alongside patients or people as I call them.

“I don’t lead but offer support with the choices and the decisions that they make. It is a privilege to offer this support and see people reach their goals and leave CARS for an independent life ahead of them”.

Paramjit Kaur, from Chester, is a peer support volunteer and says, “The role of peer support has enabled staff to understand how I have used my lived experience to help patients on the ward. It also engages me to have 1:1 with patient and help them with supporting the patients in their daily routines.

“The support from staff is very positive. I have had positive feedback in supervision informing me of the way that my role has an impact on patients but also supporting the team on the ward.”

Liz Matthews, associate director for patient and carer experience at CWP, says: “Peer support is a great example of people with experience being there to listen, empower and guide service users on their recovery journey. 

“They are not there to judge, tell or direct, but rather, they are there to empower, enable and encourage self-directed support, to allow everyone to be the best that they can be, one person at a time.”

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