Monthly Archives: March 2017

Clare Knighton – Fostering hope on an acute psychiatric ward through Peer Support

Hope. It’s a word often used in day to day conversation; I hope I win the lottery, I hope my partner has put the washing on when I get home. When we use the word hope in conversation, we are usually expecting something good or positive to happen but often it’s used without any action or thought to make the intended outcome a reality.

Well I’m going to talk about a different kind of hope. A hope that needs time, attention, nurturing and care. A hope that you can’t leave to fend for itself or ignore. I have blogged before, about the magic of peer support, of how transformative it has been for me and my personal journey. As I settle into this role, now well into my second year, other questions begin to surface, and I share them with you here.

I was a ‘frequent flyer’ to mental health wards before becoming a peer support worker. Now, somehow, magically I visit these places only as a staff member. Working side by side with the very people who have cared for me, seen me at my lowest, and seen me behave in a very distressed manner and now I’m part of the team. I really feel it. They check up on me, joke with me, and best of all, ask my opinion on how best to help someone. What more could anyone ask for? This integration into the team fosters my own hope and it grows daily.

I do spend some time helping people to understand what peer support is, but I’m happiest when I’m showing them what it is. How I can sit with someone in distress, and story share small bits to give them hope, that there is a way out of the darkness they find themselves in. How I can talk about my experiences of medication, when it worked well for me, when I resisted and how I got to a position to make my own choices. Or how I can suggest social activities that are going on outside of the ward, that can help give people other identities than that of’ mental health patient’.

Peer support on an acute psychiatric ward is all about growing hope. It’s fast paced; you never know how long you have to work with someone, how long they will be there, or even how ready they are for peer support. Even those who say they don’t want peer support, I can still help. Sitting with someone in silence is still a way to show them that you are there for them, and the hope sits there with me, waiting for them, being there for someone when they need it. Hope is also fostered in the language you use – positive affirmations, compliments and a genuine belief that someone is so much more than their diagnosis. Many people I see have lacked positive support in their lives, and who doesn’t want someone to believe in them? We all benefit from that and just because someone is detained under the mental health act doesn’t mean they can’t have hope; I am living proof!

An acute psychiatric ward may seem a place where there isn’t much hope that it’s all about control and dis-empowering people. I know different. Without being sectioned I wouldn’t have found peer support, I wouldn’t have been encouraged to apply to do the training, and ultimately change my life. All the staff want the same thing, for the person to recover and now with peer support on the team, I do all I can to prevent a ward becoming a revolving door, like it was for me for so many years.

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Clare is an accredited peer support worker based in Worcestershire, a passionate coach, mentor, cat owner and lover of kindness..NHS champion..survivor….expert by experience. You can follow her on Twitter @knightonstar for daily tweets about peer support.

You can also read more of her other fantastic posts here

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Note from editor:

If this post has sparked your interest in peer support, you might like to know about our specialist peer support training course which starts in London in June.  The Institute of Mental Health was the first nationally accredited education provider in the field of peer support training. A key element of the training is the model of co-production, co-learning and co-facilitation, whereby all training is delivered by two trainers who between them have clinical expertise and lived experience of distress. These experiences are grounded in an academic understanding of recovery and peer support. This authentic approach to training, enhances the learning experience and offers an opportunity to role model effective co-working of people with different backgrounds, demonstrating effective peer working. The training helps organisations to embrace the Recovery agenda and support the development of skilled Peer Supporters.
Closing date for applications: 5 May 2017

 

 

 

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First INDUCT School was a success!

INDUCT teamIn January 2017 the INDUCT (Interdisciplinary Network for Dementia Using Current Technology) team got together in Maastricht, a city in the south of the Netherlands, for the first INDUCT school. It was a great opportunity to finally meet, in person, all of our fellow PhDs on the programme. We were only able to meet each other virtually before, one of the wonders of technology, during an online course offered by INTERDEM (Early Detection and Timely Intervention in Dementia).

As the week progressed, our bond became stronger, not only because we could share and relate to each other’s challenges and struggles of starting a PhD, but also because we shared moments of joy and intellectual and personal growth. It was an intense week with multiple sessions providing us opportunities to learn new and exciting things. Have a look below for a brief overview of the week.

Monday: We kicked off the week with a session of elevator pitches in which every PhD student was required to explain his/her research in 90 seconds. It was an interesting moment for many, since it was just the beginning of the week and it was challenging to explain a huge amount of information in a short amount of time. The presence of 20 people you did not know very well contributed to the nerves. However, it was a safe environment which meant that people were given the space to think and take time. This feeling of safety set the tone for the rest of the week. The day continued with wonderful presentations on different methods to use technology in dementia research by Dr. Marco Blom and Rob Groot Zwaaftink from Alzheimer Nederland. Joris Wiersinga from Silverfit talk to us about the use of exergaming in dementia care to promote physical activity among people with dementia. We concluded the day with an interactive session by Phil Joddrell and Yvonne Kerkhof on making better use of touch-screen applications (apps) and how to make these more accessible for people with dementia.

Tuesday: The second day started with a session by Marc Wortmann from Alzheimer Disease International on global dementia policy which was followed by a talk by Professor Anne Margriet Pot on the World Health Organisation (WHO) dementia policy and an online, worldwide tool developed by the WHO for carers of people with dementia. We continued with a fun and enlightening role playing activities coordinated by our fellow ESRs, in which each of us took on the role of a different stakeholder when talking about ethics and the involvement of people with dementia. The last session about Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) with Dr. Nancy Preston informed us about PPI work in the UK and its importance for research.

Wednesday: On day three we enjoyed some workshops and were joined by members from the INTERDEM academy. The first workshop, led by Professor Rose-Marie Dröes from the VUmc in Amsterdam, covered the MRC (Medical Research Council) Framework and its application to piloting interventions. We had the opportunity to develop our own potential feasibility study in dementia care. In the afternoon we had a lecture and a workshop on the Theory of Change and the MRC framework led by Dr. Graham Moore, Professor Lieve Van der Block, Dr. Lara Pivodic and MSc. Joni Glissen.

Thursday: This day stood out as we had the participation of Alzheimer Europe, represented by Project Officer Ana Diaz, and the EWGPWD (European Working Group of People with Dementia), with Chris Roberts and Alv Orheim. After an inspiring talk Ms. Diaz and Mr. Roberts, we had the chance to ask Mr. Roberts and Mr. Orheim about how to involve people living with dementia in our PhDs. This session was great and provided us with a lot of useful and directed feedback.

Friday: The snow did not stop us from having a great last day. We started with a lecture given by Rosalie van Knippenberg and Dr. Lizzy Boots about the use of technology in their research. This was a relatable session because we could learn from their experience; the do’s and don’ts in dementia research while using technology. We also had the participation of second level partners (Betawerk and Eumedianet) who showed us their work and told us more about implementation of technology in health care settings (as well as dementia care).

On Friday it was also time to say goodbye. This was a great week for all of us, with a lot of learning and networking. The whole week was a fantastic experience and we just can’t wait for the next INDUCT school in September this year in Salamanca, Spain.

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Aline Cavalcanti Barroso and Harleen Rai are Marie Sklodowska-Curie Researcher Fellows for INDUCT and PhD candidates at the Institute of Mental Health, University of Nottingham.
Contact: Aline.CavalcantiBarroso@nottingham.ac.uk and Harleen.Rai@nottingham.ac.uk

 

 

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A day in the life of Joy Rooney, Peer Support Worker

blogI work for two days a week as an intentional peer support worker (PSW, 07:00 – 15:00, Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust) in a recovery unit offering:  facilitated training group work, along with spending time with people on a one to one basis (1:1s), practical and emotional support.  People with longer term stays can develop their interests in, and benefit from the hearing voices group, bite size psychology group, peer group using the PeerZone free materials (from Mary O’Hagan in New Zealand), and the early warning signs course (written by Prof Jo Smith and Dr Tom Barker).  There’s also the gardening project which I initiated – growing vegetables and flowers in dedicated beds.  Other types of groups are run by the second intentional PSW who works on the other three days.

The day starts with the nursing handover, moves on to preparation for the days’ groups and 1:1s and then really gets going with 1:1s recovery orientated conversations with people, practical and emotional support.  The groups of up to nine people run at 11:00 and 14:00 for up to 45 minutes and I write case notes and make diary entries after the groups and 1:1 conversations.  It’s a hectic two days a week and reflection, refinement and lesson planning are taken home but not dwelt overly on.  There is a group meeting/ supervision with the other seven peer support workers across the county for two hours once a month and line management supervision from the ward manager too.

I really enjoy relating little chunks of my relevant experiences of poor mental health and how I coped with being in hospital in an empathetic way to people when I hear their stories. I know that holding hope for them to recover will see them improve and be discharged to live a self-determined life away from the hospital ward with the tools they need to prevent re-admission or at least reduce its longevity.

Within Worcestershire PSWs have typically worked exclusively with people with mental distress, but I have also met families and friends during the evening so that they can understand the ethos of recovery from its beginnings. By doing so I am able to help and support them in applying recovery principles when visiting and living with their loved ones.

The peer support I offer is unique because it flows from my personal experience of 38 years in secondary mental health services (now discharged), all its ups and down across four acute inpatient wards including three of the old asylums around England with multiple admissions as a ‘revolving door patient’. These chunks of relevant personal experience come from more than half a lifetime of mental distress. I am seen as a role model, someone that’s been there and got the t-shirt. Not many other mental health practitioners have that sort of experience “from the other side” – to know what it feels like to recover a life, trying to cope alone with lots of systems.

Although I have worked in many fields (notably as an agricultural research scientist for 16 years) in a number of roles and organisations, none has matched what I feel I am giving back to others with mental health difficulties as a PSW. I feel it gives me a sense of achievement when these people have ‘light bulb’ moments around the recovery principles and what it means to them. It especially gives me great joy when they are discharged.

Along with my recent academic successes both within the Trust and the University of Worcester in the Institute of Health and Society as an associate lecturer and research stemming from the IMPACT group of service users and carers (SUAC), I feel I am making a contribution to the knowledge base around peer support and SUAC, student and staff perceptions of SUAC involvement in higher education through peer reviewed publications. I am also a student again, taking a part-time Diploma in Education and Training to benefit my practice around teaching recovery in group sessions and teaching research, recovery and mental health, advocacy and long term conditions within the University of Worcester.

Being an intentional peer support worker is really important to my own wellbeing.

Dr Joy M Rooney is a project leader and peer support worker with Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust and an associate lecturer and researcher at the University of Worcester. Contact: joy.rooney@nhs.net or j.rooney@worc.ac.uk

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Recent Publications/ conferences:

Rooney, J. M., Osborne, N. and Unwin, P. F. (2015). “The impact of IMPACT – reflections on the first seven years of a service user and carer (SUAC) group at the University of Worcester, UK”. Conference paper: Where’s The Patient’s Voice in Health Professional Education – 10 years on, 13/11/2015, Vancouver, Canada.

Rooney, J. M., Miles, N., and Barker, T. (2016a). “Patients’ Views: Peer Support Worker on Inpatient Wards.” Mental Health and Social Inclusion 20(3) 160-166. doi 10.1108/MHSI-02-2016-0007.

Rooney, J. M. and Unwin, P. (2016b). “Transformative or Tokenistic – Can involving service users and carers in the training of health and social care professionals promote social justice?” Social Justice Conference 26/06/2016 University of Worcester.

Rooney, J. M., Unwin, P. F. and Osborne, N. D. (2016c). “Gaining by Giving? Peer Research into Service User and Carer perceptions of Inclusivity in Higher Education.” Social Work Education. 35(8) 945-959. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02615479.2016.1227314

Rooney, J. M. (2017). “HQUIP Case Study. Patients value peer support worker in their recovery. ” http://www.hqip.org.uk/resources/case-study-patients-value-peer-support-worker-in-their-recovery/

Unwin, P., Rooney, J. M. and Cole, C. (2017, in press). “An evaluation of the impact of service user and carer involvement on students’ classroom learning in higher education.” Journal of Further and Higher Education. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0309877X.2017.1281886.

Unwin, P., Rooney, J. M., Osborne, N., and Cole, C. (201x, accepted). “Are perceptions of disability changed by the involvement of service users and carers in the qualifying training of health and social work professionals?” Disability and Society.

 

 

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