27 February 2017
For immediate release
Putting lived experience to good use in Milton Keynes' Campbell Centre
Establishing peer support workers in an inpatient mental health setting can be challenging but as the Campbell Centre in Milton Keynes is finding, it is beginning to show rewards.
Staff are encouraged to think about new ways of working with patients, while patients are enjoying speaking with someone with lived experience of mental ill-health.
Challenges remain in establishing an identity and their precise role within the inpatient setting, but this takes time and the development of promotional material to remind staff of their presence and their role is helping.
The first two in post at the centre since August and November last year respectively are Mark Sanderson and Lorna Adams.
Among their duties, Mark and Lorna help train staff on peer-centred ways to liaise with patients; advocate on behalf of patients; take part in group meetings and one-to-one sessions with patients; and support patients in identifying personal goals and plans centred around discharge back into the community.
They are also involved in large-scale reviews of policy documents within the centre including guidance in management of self-harm, and documents relating to an all-staff training project surrounding recovery.
The pair work under Clinical Psychologist Dr Peter Ord, who approached the two as part of his role in promoting recovery-focussed work.
His ethos was to allow Mark and Lorna to develop their roles in ways that worked for them, hence making the most of their passion for recovery-focussed mental health care.
Anecdotal evidence from patients suggests this is a role that patients are finding helpful for their wellbeing on the ward because of their shared experiences with Mark and Lorna.
"I was there as a listening ear and showing them that recovery was possible. I think that's the main thing that people get out of it," said Mark.
Feedback forms from staff following training sessions suggest also staff find their input useful, though as Mark said: "It's about establishing the identity and letting people know we're here."
The longer term plan is to enable Mark and Lorna to become peer support specialists and thus to expand the team by introducing more peer support worker roles.
To help in this process, they are developing contacts with voluntary groups and putting in place a project called Pathway to Community, which is centred around supporting individuals to connect or reconnect with their local communities upon discharge from an inpatient service.
This might be returning to employment, seeking employment, engaging in leisure pursuits. Part of this involves putting together a suite of documents that helps sign post inpatients to voluntary services.
Mark said: "The way I see it is when someone is admitted, we should be planning for their discharge almost as quickly because hospital is a good place to be if you are in crisis, but we also need to encourage people to think that they aren't here forever."
Linked with this is providing more recovery-focussed training for inpatient and community staff, helping them understand the way they work in terms of communicating and listening with patients and explain to them what it is like to be a patient.
Mark said: "It's about being more open-minded in terms of approaches with patients and to keep trying new approaches with a patient until you've built that trust and then you can start working with them."
Dr Ord added: "Our hope is ultimately about improving the quality of someone's experience of care from the point at which they first come through the door. We are trying to develop a person-centred care. There's a lot more we can do in that respect in terms of making it more consistent.
The attached photo shows Mark, Dr Ord and Lorna outside the Campbell Centre
Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust
Stephenson House, 75 Hampstead Road, London NW1 2PL
Tel: 020 3214 5756 e-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org