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Meet the team: Peer Support Warriors


  • Anna Sterckx, Head of Patient, Carer & Public Engagement Worcestershire Acute HospitalsTrust (WAHT)
  • Michelle McKay, CEO WAHT
  • Linda Price, Lead Nurse for Patient Experience WAHT
  • Rebecca Bourne, Communications Manager WAHT
  • Ray Cochran, Head of Estates WAHT
  • Simon Tate, Emanation Films
  • Anne Hannaford, Director of Arts and Culture at University of Worcester.

Peer Support Hub: Our Focus for Peer Support Across Our Trust

Our project aims to build and install mobile sensory arches to provide an immersive hub and experience – to be installed in the main atrium and reception areas of our hospitals to introduce patients, carers and families to the benefits of peer support, the services available and to stimulate discussion – and to ignite a cultural change across the Trust.

We have hundreds of volunteers across our hospitals offering support every day – many more are not classed as volunteers but are offering their time to support others who are going through similar, confusing or challenging times. This initiative aims to open conversation and dialogue to validate the importance of peer support across the Trust, to stimulate conversations and on-going dialogue and to support a cultural transformation – with peer support recognised as a therapeutic tool to positively enhance patient, carer and family experience.

From research to date, it has not yet been possible to find any central repository of formal peer support that is available to patients, carers and /or their families within Worcestershire.  Presently local peer support is fragmented and difficult to access.

This project is about building on existing infrastructure and mechanisms. It sits firmly in the Patient, Carer and Community Engagement Plan 2018-2021, embedded within the Patient Experience Improvement Framework.

The project creates a unique opportunity for us to generate awareness and create a sensory, immersive, therapeutic cross departmental, cross medical and cross community experience; together we will capture people’s stories and trigger cultural change.

We will install two unique specialised units to offer an immersive, reassuring, sensory experience (using music therapy)  – a space for the public to move through – with sound and visuals throughout. Touch screens will be “embedded” in the arches for people to “listen”, “see” and “hear” patients and families tell their stories in their own words using spoken word and actual patients.

Trained Peer Hub volunteers will support the experience, welcoming members of the public and supporting them to access the experience. Volunteers will move through the arches and can engage in conversation and share “conversation triggers” (key ways to open up conversation with people about peer support and what they are experiencing) and distribute any key information (leaflets).

The volunteers act as “living signposts” to highlight existing support groups and to establish needs for peer support that are not being met.  Volunteers can share written information describing what peer support is and how folk can access existing groups or set up a peer support group themselves.

We aim to build on this initial stage in 2019: we have secured interest and commitment from within our team to take this experience wider into the community and work with the existing team to grow the project further.

We are committed to legacy and will ensure that volunteers capture public response, so that we can feedback directly to the clinical divisions across all hospital sites, informing division level plans. This key data to feed-back will inform exactly where peer support can be “grown” at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Trust and where we can support improvements as a Trust.  This ties in with our 4ward Key Signature Behaviours:

The project will be co-designed with groups of patients, carers and families and will reflect the diversity of our community. We will also work with VCS groups and the local university.

This project will support “self-care” and prevention initiatives as well as community empowerment.

We see this transformative project as a crucial injection of creativity, support and empathy that will inspire and benefit the thousands of patients, carers and families that use our services every day now and in the future.

Monitoring, impact and legacy are important factors with our project.

We will share the films we create and provide key information on our Trust website to support continued conversation. We will also share our films on our social media channels and we will promote the project and generate awareness by producing a special edition of our Trust weekly newsletter.

We have researched music to support the experience and are collaborating with Ignar Rip in Holland who will be advising on music to support people with dementia.


How you can contribute

  • We believe that we can create and manage this project within the Trust, working with partners across the community.


  1. Hi Carl & Hawys,

    Thank you for the kind comments about our project.  We are spending a lot of time on its design and we have decided to enlist the aid of outside contractors for help with the technical stuff such as projector systems, lighting and so on.

    The two hubs have evolved now into being able to show films of patients and carers talking about peer support, not only about how they use it but also expressing their wishes for other peer support services too.

    The main obstacle we have come across is that there is no central bank of information about peer support in the county, so we are presently trawling through every provider and stakeholder as the first step in completing a comprehensive review.  For instance we have found that there is no peer support provision for diabetes and so we are extending our searches to include the suppliers of advice about the main Long Term Conditions, such a Diabetes UK and the British Heart Foundation.

    We have updated our original idea submission so that our entry now reflects our plans more effectively, but it's possible that we will use the few hours remaining to fine tune.

  2. Interesting idea for a hub to educate people about peer support – I can really imagine it being a talking point. As Carl says, above, it would be good to see peer support being given a spotlight in a hospital setting. I can see how this follows on from the Q Lab’s work around improving access to peer support services, in this instance, by raising awareness and improving signposting. In addition to the hub, you’re suggesting a “redesign our peer service services and associated communication and introduce new ones and effective signposting as necessary”.I’m wondering how ambitious this scope is – what exactly are you proposing here?

  3. It is great to see peer support being placed in the heart of hospital care and please to see this sits with the improvement and engagement agenda. I just wondered how you are clearly going to measure the impact? It is always a challenge, but you could use self care, self efficay or inclusion measures.

    Also do you have a long term costing plan for  going requirements e.g for maintence and covering expenses for volunteers?

    Great idea!

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