It helped me make decisions and take control
These are the words of a patient with kidney disease who told us about the benefit of peer support. However when we started our peer support project back in September 2019 who would have known that peer support would be so important? When people with kidney disease were having to shield from COVID-19, Kidney Care UK published a report Worried Sick. on the impact of the pandemic on people‘s mental health.
So here we are one year later and we managed to finish our project not only to time but also within budget. We had a dream team - two kidney nurses with decades of renal experience between them, a renal counsellor, a fantastic project assistant and most importantly a committed group of individuals who had either received or provided peer support.
If anyone is in any doubt about the benefits of peer support you only need to hear the words of Eleri Wood, a champion and role model for peer support
In many ways it is a simple low-cost intervention, of one person with kidney disease providing information and emotional support to help someone else with the same condition. However, its impacts, such as increasing understanding and providing reassurance, confidence, and hope, are priceless, and every person in the UK living with kidney disease should have access to a trained, competent peer supporter.
So what did we do? We have published a literature review on the barriers and drivers for peer support programmes in kidney care in the UK.
We undertook a survey to find out the availability of peer support in renal units across the UK and we have just presented a poster at UK Kidney Week. As a result of the survey and interviews we conducted in two London Trusts, we developed a Toolkit.
So take time to reflect on the support for people with kidney disease in your unit, especially with the impact of the second wave and also the possibility of further shielding.
If you are a clinician then reflect on how peer support can complement the psychological services provided by your unit and the advocacy services provided by Kidney Care UK.
If you are a patient, then lobby your doctor or nurse and ask about peer support in your unit. The Toolkit is here to support you with practical advice and ready-to-download templates to get you started.
Finally a word from one of project team members:
I have as a patient thoroughly enjoyed being involved in this project .....the Toolkit is a user friendly, highly detailed, instructional step by step guide for units to introduce/ improve/ reshape their own service
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