Later this month NHS England will launch their brand new Peer Leadership Development Programme (PLDP).
This exciting and innovative online personal development programme is for people with lived experience who are committed to working collaboratively with the system to shape and influence how personalised care is delivered.
That’s where Peer Leaders come in. A Peer Leader is ‘a person with lived experience who is committed to working collaboratively with the system to shape and influence how health and care is delivered.’ It makes sense that the only way to ensure that our NHS meets everyone’s needs, is to involve people who use our services, and especially those who are living with a long-term health condition, disabled people and family carers.
In 2018 I attended the Peer Leadership Academy, a previous in-person version of this course, and found the experience extremely valuable. The PLA allowed me to develop my confidence and learn a lot of skills which have stood me in good stead for the work I do today, particularly in my role as Patient Involvement Facilitator for KPIN.
When I first applied to join the Peer Leadership Academy I was already involved in a bit of kidney patient support, advocacy and volunteering, so I knew I wanted to use my experiences to help others, I just wasn’t sure how everything would fit together. I wondered whether the PLA might be able to provide me with some direction and encouragement, so I applied, was excited to be accepted, and looked forward to getting starter!
When I arrived on the first day and met the other participants, I was amazed by how diverse our group was! We had a wide variety of backgrounds, were looking forward to getting to know one another, open to sharing our experiences of life with a long-term health condition or disability and keen to consider how personalised care applied to each of us as patients or caregivers.
Overall, the Peer Leadership Academy not only introduced me to some incredible people and taught me a lot, it also significantly changed the way I see myself. Prior to attending, I felt that, while I certainly had the desire to build a stronger voice to advocate for other patients and to encourage them to become proactive members of their medical teams, I didn’t feel like I had the knowledge, skills or confidence to have any real impact.
Through a mixture of facilitated sessions and discussions with other participants, I very quickly learnt that I knew a lot more than I gave myself credit for! I also realised that everybody, regardless of whether they’re introverted, extroverted, a carer, a patient or anything else in between, all had something to gain from the Academy. For some, it was an opportunity to boost their own knowledge (to better manage their conditions and allow them to live the life they wanted). For others, it was a springboard to doing more in-depth work with organisations they’re already part of, or to move towards being involved in projects at a regional or national level. The possibilities for “where to next?” really were limitless.
After finishing the PLA I went on to apply for, and be accepted into, the Personalised Care Strategic Co-production Group. Over the last 18 months I have had a huge number of opportunities to use my experience of living with chronic kidney disease to have a positive impact. I’ve attended meetings and workshops, sat on decision-making boards as well as giving numerous presentations about my own experience of personalised care and its impact on my life. My confidence in what I have to offer has improved hugely, and I strongly recommend the PLDP to any kidney patients who are interested in using the skills and experiences they already have to make a greater contribution to our renal community.
The NHSE Peer Leadership Development Programme is a personal development programme hosted on FutureLearn and taking place in four stages. The first two stages (Peer Leadership Foundation) are free and open to everybody (including health care providers and other professionals), the third stage (Peer Leadership Academy) is open to people with lived experience, which refers to people living with a long-term health condition, disabled people and family carers. The fourth stage (Peer Leadership Facilitation) will be launched in Spring 2021.
If you are interested in enrolling in the PLDP, you can download the course booklet or join via the link above. Alternatively, you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for further info.
Holly Loughton is a kidney transplant recipient and KPIN’s Patient Involvement Facilitator.