The Patient and Carer Involvement Team at Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW) has been shortlisted for the Innovation in Mental Health Award at this year’s national Health Business Awards. The team have been recognised for their pioneering approach to establishing Peer Support throughout the organisation.
CNTW is the largest provider of mental health and disability services across the North of England. The Trust began employing Peer Supporters in 2012 to improve the support that patients and carers receive. There are now 54 Peer Supporters working across CNTW.
It is thanks to the hard work of a small but dedicated group of people that we have made such fantastic progress establishing an innovative, highly respected Peer Support service throughout CNTW. They thoroughly deserve this national recognition.Alane BouldHead of Patient and Carer Involvement
Alane Bould, Head of Patient and Carer Involvement at CNTW said: “I am incredibly proud that our team has been shortlisted for this Health Business Award. It is thanks to the hard work of a small but dedicated group of people that we have made such fantastic progress establishing an innovative, highly respected Peer Support service throughout CNTW. They thoroughly deserve this national recognition.”
Alane explained: “Our Peer Supporters are people who have ‘been there’, who can use their own lived experience of mental health difficulties to offer hope and help others on their journey to recovery. They also help other staff to empathise with and understand those they care for. The input and unique perspective of our Peer Supporters has become highly valued by colleagues at all levels of the Trust.”
Alane went on, “In 2019, we reviewed our approach to Peer Support and recognised that this is a very specialised role that needs a good support structure in place around them. These staff have experienced their own difficulties in the past, so the right support is vital to make sure that taking on this role to help others doesn’t negatively impact on their own wellbeing. And some overarching support is also needed to make sure Peer Supporters can properly integrate into all of our clinical teams.”
In late 2020 the team was joined by four new Peer Support Development and Wellbeing Facilitators, and in May 2021 CNTW employed its first Peer Support Operational Manager. These staff deliver specialist recruitment, induction, development, and educational programmes, alongside wellbeing support for the Peer Supporters.
As well as support structures, CNTW has established a clear peer support career path. Roles such as Senior Peer Supporters, Peer Support Supervisors, and Peer Support Facilitators now offer progression options for Peer Supporters wishing to develop their career.
The team also arrange twice-yearly ‘reconnection events.’ These are a chance for Peer Support staff from across the organisation to meet and catch up, share lessons and experiences, and participate in some development sessions together.
The winners of the Health Business Awards will be announced at a live online ceremony on the 9th December.