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Project overview

The Lab’s first 12-month project explored the challenge, ‘What would it take for effective peer support to be available to everyone who wants it, to help manage their long-term health and wellbeing needs?’

Sometimes you just need to talk to someone who ‘gets it’. The doctors try their best, the carers are friendly, and friends have been great at helping out, but you just want to speak with someone who has lived ‘it’ themselves. That’s peer support.

Lab participant

The project was divided into three distinct phases:

  1. Research and Discovery (April ‘17 – July ‘17) – working to gain an in-depth and system wide understanding of the topic – building on what is already known and from multiple perspectives.
  2. Developing and testing ideas (August ‘17 – December ‘17) – focusing on a small number of areas identified in the ‘research and discovery’ phase. Supporting Lab participants to develop their peer support ideas and projects locally.
  3. Distilling and Sharing learning (January ‘18 – May ‘18) – drawing together the areas of work from the ‘developing and testing ideas’ phase, collating what we have learned and how the new insights could be practically applied.

During the project, the Lab collaborated almost 200 Lab participants – a fantastic group of people including clinicians, patients, designers, academics, Q members, non-Q members, representatives from charities, social care, housing associations, national bodies and think tanks.

Project outputs

The Lab Essays

In May we’ll publish The Lab Essays – an online collection of essays capturing our learning and insights from the Q Lab’s pilot project. The Lab Essays tell the story of the first Lab project on peer support, with the first three essays covering:

  1. What is the Q Improvement Lab?
  2. Peer support learning: challenges and opportunities
  3. Understanding decision making in peer support – the results of a nationwide survey with YouGov on what is important to different groups of people when deciding whether to refer, recommend or use peer support services.

We hope that these essays either offer additional evidence and insights to current peer support projects and initiatives, or inspire people to think about how peer support can be used to improve health care for people in the UK.

The Lab Essays will consist of six essays in total, with the remaining three to be published early August. These will focus on our wider learning from the pilot project, specifically the Lab’s impact model, our ways of working and approach to evaluation.

Peer Support Evidence Hub

We are working with the charity National Voices to develop the idea of an online Hub that collates and curates peer support evidence and resources.

During the project, it became clear that the multitude of resources and evidence for peer support is fragmented and difficult to find. Finding relevant, high quality materials is an arduous task.

The Lab developed and scoped the idea of an online Hub of peer support resources with the charity National Voices, which has been granted an award by Health Foundation. National Voices – a coalition of health and care charities – will lead its development and delivery, and it is scheduled to launch in January 2019.

Through collating and curating peer support resources, tools and evidence, the Hub will improve the development of peer support programmes, which will ultimately have a positive impact on the availability and quality of peer support in the UK.

Connections and collaborations

A diverse community of people with expertise in peer support who are connecting and collaborating on peer support projects.

Wider Lab impact

As part of the Lab Essays, in August the Lab will publish an essay on our impact model, and the early impact that we have seen as a result of the Lab so far.

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