A peer Support Group already existed but it was poorly attended and the members were keen for it to be injected with new life. Positives from the existing group included great comradeship, but they also recognised it had become quite a closed group over time.
We held a Mind Mapping Event to look at what was working well and generate new ideas on person centred approaches to make the group more attractive to new members.
The new Peer Support format involves patients and carers sharing a buffet lunch with each other. This helps to break down barriers and promotes making new friendships and networks. After lunch a facilitated group discussion on a topic of interest is held.
Group members suggest topics for discussion, ranging from serious topics such as 'Coping whilst waiting for clinical results' to lighter discussions, designed to build a team spirit, like 'Something you do not know about me'. We also have educational sessions by visiting Allied Health Care Professionals such as dieticians, pharmacists and therapists.
The group have submitted questions to the National Cancer Patient Conference and plan to attend the next annual conference in 2016. They have also supported the development of services locally by completing questionnaires on behalf of Macmillan Cancer Support and other organisations.
A recent visit by Community Solutions, a local organisation that provides support to vulnerable isolated adults in Burnley and Pendle, succeeded in recruiting some volunteers from the Peer Support Group, promoting community inclusions and building links between organisations.
Since relaunching the Peer Support Group, attendance has increased over 100% from approximately 8 per week to 20 per week.
We anticipate that the group will grow further. In fact we are hoping to introduce support to enable people experiencing dementia and their carers to attend.