Development and Delivery of a Diverse Peer Support Programme for Renal Service Users, their Family and Carers: An Action Research Collaboration

Leader(s)Kate McCarthy, Clinical Research Fellow and Sarah Mastin, Renal Nurse Specialist
LocationUniversity Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire
DurationApril 2014 – March 2015
Received for PublicationFebruary 2016

A Participant Action Research multidisciplinary and service user group was developed to unite diverse stakeholders, with wide ranging knowledge and experience, to develop a diverse peer support programme. Kidney peer support involves patients with kidney disease who have been trained to offer support, helping other patients with kidney disease who are facing similar situations, concerns and worries. This support can provide reassurance, increase confidence and help to find solutions.

Over an 18-month period, ten peer supporters with diverse treatment experience, were trained. Peer supporters contributed to patient information days, offered support to people who were starting dialysis in an unplanned manner, one-to-ones and as a co-applicant on a research bid. However, concomitant challenges arose, firstly embedding peer support in the wider renal service was limited and referrals from consultants remained low. Following commencement of peer support delivery: two patients were transplanted and returned to work; three were unreliable; the others changed their preferences for providing peer support, resulting in gaps in delivery; all compounded by chronic staffing shortages.

Developing a peer support programme requires service wide buy-in from the start. The nursing leads are now focusing on training individuals once they have established their commitment to, and preferences for, providing peer support in an informal capacity. By seeking funding from charity sources, it may be appropriate to train a service user to deliver peer support training and co-ordinate delivery. Importantly, our learning is feeding into a national NHS England and Renal Registry programme around transforming participation in chronic kidney disease.

This project was supported by the FoNS Practice Based Development and Research Programme in partnership with the General Nursing Council for England and Wales Trust.

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