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Peer support team expands to help more patients

Health / Sat 3rd Feb 2024 at 10:41am

A NEW team of peer support workers is expanding to provide support to more patients.

The Inpatient Peer Support Team launched in March last year to help people receiving care from mental health services delivered by Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (EPUT).

All of the team have had experience of mental health challenges, and use these experiences and empathy to support people through every step of their care and recovery.

They provide one-to-one and group support, help run activities, and work closely with staff to ensure patients’ individual needs are being met.

The Inpatient Peer Support Team launched with five peer support workers, who have been working with patients at the Linden Centre and Crystal Centre in Chelmsford.

There are now ten peer support workers working across the wards and another nine who are currently completing their training.

Over the next six months they will be looking to also work with patients at the Poplar Adolescent Unit in Rochford and The Lakes in Colchester.

Inpatient Peer Support Team lead Renee Conley, who is a mental health therapist with lived experience of depression and anxiety, said: “Peer support is having a positive impact on people’s recovery and how they feel during their stay on the wards.

“They look out for us on the wards and find it reassuring to have us sit with them during meetings with staff.

“Some of our work helps patients to feel comfortable getting out of their rooms, so we might take them for walks and we lead activities with the activity coordinators and occupational therapists, which helps with their overall wellbeing.

“We also do a lot of advocacy work and ensuring their needs are being met, and we’ve seen better communication between staff and patients.

“Being sensitive and compassionate can really de-escalate any potential tension.”

Today (Thursday 1 February) is Dignity Action Day, which aims to ensure people who use care services are treated as individuals and are given choice, control and a sense of purpose in their daily lives.

We want everyone who uses our services to have the best possible experience and the Inpatient Peer Support Team support patients through their care, treatment and recovery.

Some of the feedback they have received from patients includes:

“Thank you for caring for us.”

“I appreciated peer support help in my ward review.”

“You don’t have to ask peer support. They voluntarily ask how they can help. They stand out from the crowd. Peer support is valuable.”

EPUT is looking for people with lived experience of mental health to join their Peer Support Team. You will receive specialist training and support. Anyone who would like to find out more can email [email protected]

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