Book review by Eugene Egan: Narratives of recovery from mental illness, the role of peer support



Narratives of recovery from mental illness: The role of peer support
Mike Watts and Agnes Higgins
Routledge (2017)
ISBN: 978-1-13-884799-6
158 pages

It’s not often that I come across a book that has resonated with me on such a profound scale but this is one of them. Narratives of recovery from mental illness: The role of peer support is part of a growing body of evidence-based research that is challenging the prevailing bio-medical approach that currently dominates the mental health system especially within the field of psychiatry. Using a narrative based approach the authors, Mike Watts and Agnes Higgins, interviewed 26 people with lived experience of mental distress about their recovery journey to illustrate the transformative power of peer support. Those interviewed were all members of GROW, a mutual support group, that advocates the importance of social interaction that encourages people to become active agents in taking back control of their lives, through peer support, rather than just leaving it to health care professionals with their reliance on medication.   Those interviewed included people with a wide-range of diagnosis, including schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder and depression.

Mike Watts, Research Fellow at Trinity College Dublin, and Agnes Higgins, Professor in Mental Health at the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Trinity College Dublin, facilitated the research by giving those interviewed the opportunity to tell their stories from a personal perspective demonstrating the power of co-production thus reflecting the growing call for a more person-centred social approach to recovery. Their findings suggest there’s too much emphasis on the clinical approach to recovery and not enough focus on personal recovery and the importance of social inclusion. Adding that social factors are too important to be over-looked and ignored.

Relying solely on the medical model in the mental health system ignores the many social factors and adverse life experiences, such as bullying, sexual and physical abuse, divorce and bereavement, that can have a negative impact on people’s mental health but with social intervention through peer support and mutual empowerment the authors were able to demonstrate that people who had experienced mental distress were able to recover and build the emotional resilience needed to cope with adversity and other challenges that life throws at us.

While the researchers suggest that the traditional approach through the use of medication may be necessary in the early stages of some people’s recovery their finding illustrated that recovery can also be resolved through every day social interactions primarily through the use of peer support and social inclusion and with much better results.  The authors have provided us with an alternative way of looking at the prevailing medical framework of mental health therefore demonstrating the need to consider other avenues and pathways towards recovery and wellbeing.

Many of those interviewed in the study explained how they found their experiences with the medical profession a very debilitating and disempowering experience. For example ‘Tom’ described an encounter with his doctor when he was nineteen and had just questioned why the medication had failed to alleviate his symptoms when the doctor looked at him very gloomily and said:  Well you’ll be on medication for life. I don’t think you’ll ever hold down full time work. Friendships will be difficult but you’ll make friendships within the hospital’. Adding he’d never drive or have a girlfriend (p65).  It was only when ‘Tom’ came across GROW with its emphasis on mutual support and social interaction did ‘Tom’ become empowered to take control and take that path towards recovery and wellbeing thus proving his doctor wrong.

The emerging recovery story is taking hold across the western world and it is one that is ‘illuminating some of the limitations of the prevailing medical story and one which commentators such as UK clinical psychologist Mike Slade et al. (2012) believe has “come of age”, (p18).

In a chapter entitled: Recovery through mutual help, the authors discuss the eight processes identified in the study which testified to the value of peer support for those recovering from mental illness. These included an empathetic and compassionate social network, becoming hopeful, reconnecting with the self and others, positive risk-taking, and a re-authoring of a more positive identity which eventually led to a re-enchantment with life.

As someone who is undergoing the recovery process with many years lived experience of mental distress I have no doubt that this book demonstrates a profound and deep understanding of the person-centred recovery process and will in my opinion become a seminal read that puts forth evidenced-based research about the transformative power of peer support that challenges the medical model. The authors, Agnes Higgins and Mike Watts, along with the 26 co-authors, have produced a piece of work that will be a source of hope and inspiration for people with lived experience of mental illness and emotional distress, as it was for me.

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Eugene Egan ( is a peer worker and recovery college facilitator for Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust.


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Call for content

Cloud 1So far this year the blog has had over 5,850 views from 69 countries and we have you to thank! We would also like to thank our wonderful contributors who have allowed us to cover diverse topics such as prejudice in mental health, mental health & disclosure, social care since the mental health act,  brain stimulation,  academic/creative writing, peer supportschizophrenia and the media and many others.

We have no new content this week, but there’s plenty of fantastic posts from the last few years which we would invite you to browse through. As always we would love to hear from you and welcome new material so please do get in touch!



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Emma Nielsen – “Me too”: Mental health and disclosure as an Early Career Researcher

me too 2When I’m not PhD-ing I’m often covered in paint. Recently, I gifted two paintings to the ‘crisis house’ that helped me and held me together earlier this year. Today, I received the most unexpected of thank you cards from the house. It was one of those game changing, reflective moments and I very nearly tweeted about it. Why? Because I work in self-harm and suicide prevention and I think that the ‘crisis house’ (which I maintain is an odd term to use to describe places of sanctuary and support) does a fantastic job.  Because hope is possible and hope is here. Because small things can make a huge difference and small acts of kindness can change your day and change your world. Because I tweet most everything and why should this be different?

But it is different.

It is a disclosure and talking about mental health as an Early Career Researcher (ECR) is not a neutral act. Depending on who you talk to it is either brave or foolish, but never neutral. Even as someone who is directly and indirectly relatively open about her history, I am aware that writing it down is a gamble. But I don’t want to work in a world where it is only acceptable to talk about lived experience in the past tense. Or where it is too much of a gamble to do unless you already have your tenure position and an established reputation. How can we meaningfully encourage others to talk about suicidality when we still live in a culture where we don’t talk about it ourselves?

In many ways, I live in a very privileged world. I work in a lab that is passionate about involvement, engagement and the value of lived experience and sees no reason why this would not apply to the whole team. I have an incredibly supportive supervisor who I can be very honest with. My mental health has never been a secret and I am respected for who I am and what I bring – no more, no less. Above and beyond, I have colleagues who will visit me in hospital and deal with important emails when I’m out of Wi-Fi range. I have collaborators who send support (animal GIFs and postcards) and mentors who mean it when they tell me to prioritise my health and stay well. In short, my world is full of ‘good guys’.

But disclosure is still a risk.

I know it is a risk because I’ve felt it. I’ve dealt with the judgement from Healthcare professionals when I have told them about what I study and, with guidance, I’ve navigated satisfying the additional requirements needed to get back to the PhD that I love. I’ve handled being asked at an international conference if I ever felt ‘a fraud’ as a researcher, given my lived experience. Sure, at the time, I came out with something strikingly coherent about spheres of expertise, but it shook me. It really shook me and it made me question whether there was a space for me in academia. No one should be made to feel that. I shouldn’t still feel as though I have to work twice as hard as my peers as I have something to ‘make up for’. I shouldn’t feel the pressure of how to explain the periods of absence from my PhD at job interviews. If I had been physically unwell there wouldn’t be a problem in explaining; this would not be a conundrum. Within a field that should be informed and understanding, when it comes to mental health there remains a question mark around how open to be. A question mark and a lot of silence.

And that is part of the problem. For as long as we go on leaving the silence unchallenged, people will internalise it. I’m guilty of this myself. When planning my research fellowship last year, I selected dates based on temperature. Yes, New England is beautiful in ‘the fall’. I got to experience Halloween, Thanksgiving and the US Elections. I got to go to the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT) Convention and the Harvard Vs. Yale football game. These were all awesome features of the Autumn, but they weren’t why I chose that semester to travel. I chose the Autumn semester for ease of covering up.

I think if you had asked me at the time why that mattered, I would have said because I want the choice to disclose or not. And 100% I think everyone has the right to make that choice. For me though, I think it is closer to the truth that I wanted to be seen as a researcher first and foremost – as if lived experience somehow challenged that. And this is the problem. This is the underlying hum that I think needs to change.

As researchers we frequently quote prevalence statistics, yet I wonder who we think they refer to, if not ourselves as well. There is no simple ‘us’ and ‘them’.  At best, expertise and experience is a Venn-diagram, arguably with a decent sized overlap. There are lots of us with lived experience – who have had thoughts of harming, who have harmed or made attempts, who care for someone affected and/or who have lost someone to suicide. We all wear many hats and we shouldn’t be afraid to acknowledge that. Research is richer for having input from multiple perspectives. Research communities are too.

Just as we want to educate people that is it okay to talk and that experiencing suicidal thoughts is not that uncommon, we need to turn the spot light back on ourselves. I think we need to consider why we collectively aren’t able to support a culture in which academics, particularly ECRs, feel freely able to raise their hand and say ‘me too’.

I was once asked why I spend my time painting when ‘painting is never going to save the world’. At the time I shrugged and said ‘it might’, but in all honesty my painting won’t. Painting sure hasn’t saved me, but it has helped me to rediscover a version of myself that I deem worth saving. For me, painting is authentic and authenticity is transformative. I think if we could all be a little more authentic – with ourselves, with our colleagues, with our social media presence. If we could all do that, maybe that would start to change our worlds. From here there is hope.

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Emma Nielsen (@EmmaLNielsen) is a PhD student in the Self-Harm Research Group (SHRG), School of Psychology ( and an Associate Fellow of the Institute of Mental Health.

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If you need someone to talk to, Samaritans are available round-the-clock (and free to contact) on 116 123 (UK & ROI) or



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Cafe Connect: A night of findings. Join us, 23rd July

We are holding a free event at Nottingham Contemporary on 23rd July 6-8.30 pm where we will be discussing innovative work that the Self-Harm Research Group (University of Nottingham) have being doing with Harmless and young people on finding new ways to talk about self-harm and eating issues. You will hear from a range of people about the project and hear performances from spoken word artists.

See details below.

Spaces are limited so you need book here

Refreshments will be provided.


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Guest post from Elly Jansen, OBE and founder of the Richmond Fellowship

Comments on the vacuum in Social Care Since the 1959 Mental Health Act: Then and Now


Having unexpectedly arrived well into my ‘eighties,’ it seems timely to reflect on my personal experience of the mental health arena, past and present.

In May 1959, when I opened the doors of Lancaster Lodge, Richmond, it was with the aim of providing a place which would nurture and respect people who had nowhere decent to go on leaving mental hospital. Yet, what seemed to me to be an obvious response to need, did not commend itself to those from whom support might have been expected and I found that not a soul was willing to back me.

For a start, I was a foreigner whose credentials were highly suspect! I was a Divinity student from Holland who had come equipped “merely” with three years’ relevant training (and – more important – three years practical work, mostly as leader/carer of a group of adolescents, and as the so-called practical work supervisor of the 1st year Psychology students) at the Paedologisch Instituut of the Free University (Amsterdam). Following this I had completed a three year nursing training which was accepted in the U.K. and which qualified me as a State Registered Nurse. This was in addition to the experience gained through the stresses endured by my whole family during the War years! I learned to cope with the constant dangers of Nazi-occupied Holland, and to assist my mother in finding the means of survival not only for her nine children but also for a succession of illegal refugees from Germany and from the Dutch west coast.

Furthermore, in 1959 it was considered dangerous and irresponsible to create, in an ordinary house in an ordinary street, a Therapeutic Community for people who had been     “Inmates” in mental hospitals. For a number of years, TCs had in fact existed in an army unit for traumatised soldiers and as specialised units in a number of mental hospitals, but even there they were often looked on with suspicion or scorn by other staff, who considered it “asking for trouble” to employ democracy and peer support with patients who were considered incapable of understanding and supporting one another.

And, of course, my project was not plain sailing, and that first year in Richmond was full of challenges. My fellow house-mates – some of whom had been discharged by the Cassel Hospital as “unsuitable for treatment”- came with strong dependency needs and, in some instances, with well-developed powers of manipulation! Our initial group meetings were focussed on me, and I came under pressure to accept the role of mother, nurse, cleaner, bread-winner – even mistress. It took several months and some tremulous perseverance on my part, before we had formulated, and agreed, a workable way of living together and of respecting boundaries, with the aim of enabling the recovery and independence of each person. All of which was a challenge and a steep learning curve for myself, as well as for my house mates.

However, having sat in on the debates in Parliament on what was then the Mental Health Bill 1959, I saw the danger of mini-institutions being created. These would tend to be staffed by those who, for want of specialist training would perpetuate patterns of care based on the long-term institutionalised concept of “mental patients” and their needs. Eager to avoid that trap, I chose to start from an assumption of shared “normality”, and from this to explore what was needed on the basis of our common experience. Yet, despite my wish to be on an equal footing with my fellow residents, an important principle emerged quite soon: I could not just be a member of the Community on a par with the others. Although there was amongst the residents a true spirit of care for one another, I was there to provide what others had come to receive, and willy-nilly I had to modify my definitions of my role and input. There was no escape!

Nor was I left in peace by the outside world. I was threatened with deportation when the Home Office (at the request of an organisation with an ostensibly similar remit) questioned my right to set up my small community. The objection raised was that, as a foreign student, I had neither a work permit nor permission to operate a service. I was able, however, to counter this by demonstrating that I had sat my Intermediate Batchelor of Divinity (with excellent results!) and was registered with London University. I had no position or salary for any activities and was merely sharing my home with free citizens who, on leaving mental hospital, had chosen to share my house with me. I conducted my own defence – successfully – and have since found that most issues which tend to be referred to a lawyer can in fact be resolved in person if one takes time to study the details and record them appropriately.

Meanwhile, the experience of the residents’ Psychiatrists, on the basis of their (typically) fifteen-minute monthly sessions, was that their patients showed substantial improvement, and that this appeared to be associated with the process of receiving help from, and of contributing to, the wellbeing of their fellow residents.

From this small and largely informal beginning, a more structured organisation began to be formed. An increasing number of psychiatrists formally referred residents, and the capacity of Lancaster Lodge, plus the surrounding flats which I had rented, could not accommodate more people. Fortunately, Surrey Local Authority promised 50 % funding for an additional building which was eventually found in East Molesey. As the Organisation grew, we held senior staff meetings to articulate and to commit to paper the principles and practice of our group life.

The evident benefits of the carefully debated and designed T.C. with its clear principles, practices and boundaries, became widely recognised, and resulted in a demand for such a resource from many parts of the UK. Subsequently demand grew from other developed countries, and also from countries whose mental health services were either non-existent or at a very primitive stage. The WHO requested a handbook that could be universally accepted and before the seventies a comprehensive manual existed that did not provide precepts so much as concepts.

The extension of therapeutic provision overseas naturally involved a whole new stage of this work. In each country a reliable and capable Board of Trustees needed to be appointed, and positive relationships built up with Governments, universities, churches and secular bodies. Prospective Managing Directors needed to be identified, who would then train in the UK – a training designed to enable them to translate their newly acquired expertise to their own country and culture. It was doubtless due to the fact that the time was ripe for the TC model – which recognises the potential in people to respond to being valued and validated – that this model became quickly recognised for its universal effectiveness and relevance. Such was the level of support, both from Governments and the community, that there now exists a worldwide group of Affiliates and Associates who have ongoing professional links as well as affectionate personal bonds with many of us in “ the old country.”

In 1959 – our first year of operation – I started our training function by organising a monthly meeting between clergy and doctors to explore mental health issues, and especially to consider how to be pro-active and how to respond to crisis needs. Our sessions always included our staff and from their participation it became clear that, although the majority came with professional degrees, they needed specific and relevant training in how to provide leadership in the TC, how to understand its group dynamics, and how to create a truly healing community in which members could develop the courage to be open and the ability to become sensitive to the feelings and rights of others. My next step, therefore, was to expand our training activities and, in 1966, to create a College providing enhanced training facilities for our staff, who had already been training on a one day per week basis as part of their employment contract. The College was then able to extend this programme to provide courses for the staff of Local Authorities and Charities, and to launch group dynamics “experiences” – not only for our own staff but also for those in leadership roles in, for example, schools, social services, and the Church. The external training was funded by the bodies involved, but the training of our staff had to be funded by ourselves – an expensive item for our budget, but worth every penny as far as the benefit for residents was concerned. A knock-on effect, of great benefit for the staff, was that they acquired skills which were welcomed widely in Universities and Social Services posts.


Today the papers are full of neglect and abuse of the elderly – which sadly, it appears, continues and worsens despite this publicity. Children have a somewhat better deal and, when they are neglected or ill-treated, the sadness and shame of it never leaves the headlines. But what about mentally ill adults of working age?

They were promised, in the July 1959 Mental Health Act and subsequently, a better deal – better alternatives to the large institutions, relevant care, opportunities to regain a full life – but where are the alternatives and where are the resources? Many are deprived of timely help, and many are at risk, wretched and desperate – not only outside the hospital but also within it, since available funding has been put into other needy parts of the Health Service, leaving precious little for therapy and therapeutic activities.  And on leaving hospital (usually still struggling to cope) there are not the means to devote to relevant aftercare resources, and to address the problems that have in the past defeated them. A recurring consequence is the “revolving door” which too often follows discharge, i.e. a speedy re-admission to the hospital ward, which itself is critically short of beds and severely restricted in its resources. This is a pattern which is far more costly than a Therapeutic Care Home which can provide a “bridge” between hospital and community. The well-run therapeutic community has the best means to help those who feel defeated and alienated. It has the potential to restore self-respect and to nurture the ability to enter into a positive relationship with self and others.

However, the problem of lack of relevant care is not just the result of cut-backs: it derives also from short sightedness – a lack of recognition of the most essential elements of relevant intervention, and of planning and co-ordination – usually on the part of Government and of hard-pressed or uninformed Local Authorities. The tragic result is that modestly priced community rehabilitation resources remain underused and/or underfunded whilst those in desperate need are being deprived of relevant help and all too frequently return, again and again, to costly and over-subscribed hospitals, with a lessening of hope at every stage or, alternatively, giving up the struggle altogether.


Elly Jansen founded the Richmond Fellowship in 1959 and directed it for 32 years. The fellowship is now one of the largest voluntary sector providers of mental health support services in England.

You can find more information about the fellowship here


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Introducing the Bridge Network from the School of Health Sciences


In partnership with the Institute of Mental Health Peer Support Education Team, students and staff at the University of Nottingham’s School of Health Sciences are launching a brand new initiative to support the mental health and wellbeing of students studying within the school.

In recognition of the specific challenges faced by people studying to be healthcare professionals, the ‘Bridge Network’ is being created. The network aims to set up peer support groups led by student peer facilitators; meeting with each other and providing a safe space to gain support and talk about mental health.  Peer facilitators will receive accredited training and supervision for this role.

Students are at the heart of this project and the network will be developed and run by student peers from the School of Health Sciences who themselves have experienced mental health challenges.


Background and Plans for the Project

The number of students who experience mental distress is increasing and universities are having to develop new and innovative ways to support these students.  Healthcare courses involve working in health care settings which can place additional pressures on students in terms of hours, assessments, professional body requirements and the emotional strain that comes with healthcare work.  In light of this, the Bridge Network is a student-led initiative designed to meet the needs of this student group.

The network will not only allow students to share experiences, but will equally provide a space for students to support one another, to increase their self-confidence, to build connections and gain a sense of belonging; supporting students to maximise their achievements at University.

Sabrina Carter is a final year BSc Mental Health Nursing student who has increasingly worked alongside a number of peers who have experienced or continue to experience mental health difficulties. One thing that has become apparent to her over the years is the need for a comfortable and supportive space for health science students to come together to talk about mental distress in a way that empowers each and every individual.

Dr Anne Felton, an Associate Professor in Mental Health, has worked in mental health nursing for 15 years. She has seen the successful growth of peer support approaches in health care; involving people with their own experience of mental distress using these experiences to challenge stigma and positively impact on others.  She has worked in alongside Sabrina to create the plans for the Bridge Network.

The University of Nottingham Cascade Fund has pledged £6,000 towards the initiative if the Network can raise £1,000 through Jumpstart, the University’s crowdfunding platform.

The money raised will go towards providing;

  • Five day accredited training programmes for student peer support facilitators
  • Peer support student learning guides
  • Peer support training resources
  • Provision of supervision for network facilitators
  • Conference fees for two students to attend a national conference to present the project


If you would like to make a donation to support this fantastic project, please follow the link to our crowdfunding page:

For more information, please contact:

Anne Felton

Sabrina Carter

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Dr Jen Yates : Standing shoulder to shoulder to conduct research – academics, carers, and people with dementia

What is peer research?

Peer research involves patients and carers helping academics to carry out research, through providing input into how research is designed, conducting interviews and focus groups, and helping to disseminate the findings. Patients and carers bring their lived experience to the project, and coupled with research skills, helps us to conduct research in a way that adds a rich level of insight and sensitivity. In our project, we are conducting focus groups with NHS staff, carers, and patients who have , and we’re asking people with dementia and carers of people with dementia to help us to facilitate these groups.


Why is it important?

In our project, we are looking into the way that care is provided to people with dementia who experience a mental health crisis.To explore this we are conducting interviews and focus groups with members of NHS staff, carers of people with dementia who have used crisis services, and people with dementia themselves. The stories that we ask our participants to tell can involve times of distress and sensitive topics, and involving peer researchers to help us to ask the questions helps our participants to feel comfortable, safe, and valued; enabling them to open up and engage in way that is less formal.

There are benefits for anyone who is a peer researcher too, as our peer researchers are able to learn new skills, and put existing skills to new uses. Being a peer researcher can be a rewarding experience by being able to help other people in a similar situation tell their story in a sensitive way.

We also hope that for participants who have dementia, seeing a peer researcher with dementia taking such an active role in a research project will prove inspiring, and will help to reduce stigma by showing that a diagnosis of dementia does not exclude people from such activities.


Progress so far

Martins office Training

We held two training events for people with dementia and carers of people with dementia to learn about what peer research is, what our project is about, and exactly how to do the research activities that we will be doing. I led the training in collaboration with a lady called Sheena*, who has experience of being a peer researcher on projects investigating secure forensic settings. So far we have had 15 people attend the training, most from the local area but with a few travelling from further afield.

On the first training event we had a smaller group, and discovered that several of the group had been somewhat miss-sold the day through an error in communication, thinking that they were attending to learn more about dementia! However, after some explanation, we were back on track and the group were thoroughly interested in what we were doing, and were very keen to take part. There was a mixture of lived experiences amongst the group, which made for some interesting conversations. Towards the end of the training we had a practice run at doing a focus group, and one of our peer researchers helped me to co-facilitate it. Another member of the group commented that he felt a lot more comfortable having a peer researcher there to direct his answers to.

Our second training event was a much busier affair with a larger group, and again we had a variety of lived experiences amongst the group, as some members of the group had dementia, and some were carers. We had a lot of insightful questions: for example some peer researchers were concerned that hearing someone else’s story might set them back by highlighting what situations might happen to them in the course of their dementia journey, and we reassured our peer researchers that part of our job as academic researchers is to support them. We also highlighted the exercise books given as part of the training, which we hope our peer researchers will use to reflect upon their experiences of working with us to co-facilitate the focus groups by recording their thoughts and feelings before and after the discussions. Another peer researcher worried that she might lose her words during the discussion because of her dementia, and we reassured her that she would be helping us to co-facilitate a focus group with other people who also had dementia, who would understand if she lost her words, and would hopefully feel reassured at her presence if they were struggling with their own words.

I can definitely say that there was a real buzz and enthusiasm during the training events, and our peer researchers were very keen to get started. We explained exactly what will happen on the day of each focus group clearly and simply and checked with everyone that they understood the process, and once everyone had got the hang of it our peer researchers felt confident that they could do it.



I was absolutely delighted with how enthusiastic our peer researchers were, firstly about learning a new skill, and then being keen to put it into practice. Our peer researchers understood the challenges associated with conducting research but were happy to give it a go, with one peer researcher saying ‘throw me in at the deep end!’

The insights that Sheena brought to the training from her own experience of being a peer researcher were hugely valuable and inspirational to our peer researchers. I couldn’t have communicated what it is like to be a peer researcher, or inspired such interesting discussions amongst our peer researchers without Sheena, and she really helped to put our new peer researchers at ease.


Going forwards

We have already completed several focus groups, which have each been co-facilitated by a member of our research team and a peer researcher, and I’m delighted to say that they have been a resounding success. Our peer researchers have asked some very insightful questions and really helped to sum up what was being said and reiterate key points, and I’m confident that this has thoroughly enriched our data.

We have more focus groups booked in and are matching our peer researchers to focus groups in terms of the types of participants to ensure that we draw on the relevant lived experiences of peer researchers.

We are asking our peer researchers to reflect on their experiences and share these reflections with us so that we can improve how we do things and continue to ensure that the experience of being a peer researcher is a positive one. We will also be putting together further blogs, tweets, and research papers detailing our work in this area to share what we are learning, and inspire others to involve people with dementia and people who care for someone with dementia in similar ways.


*Sheena gave her permission for Aqueduct to blog about our activities


Dr Jen Yates is a Research Fellow in the Division of Psychiatry and Applied Psychology, University of Nottingham. Jen’s research interests focus on the health and well-being of older people who experience difficulties with their cognitive functioning, and how health services operate in the care of older people. Jen also enjoys gardening, baking cakes and going out for the afternoon on her bicycle.

Get in touch by email ( or Twitter (@jenniferayates).

To find out more about Project Aqueduct by getting in touch via email: or on Twitter: @AqueductIMH




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