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The Lab Essays

Read The Lab Essays: Learning and insights from the Q Improvement Lab

A collection of essays that capture our learning on peer support, and our wider learning from the Lab’s pilot project.

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 (read this essay for a summary of the Lab’s learning on peer support).

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

The Lab Essays is an online collection of essays capturing our learning and insights from the Q Lab’s pilot project.

These essays offer additional evidence and insights to current peer support projects and initiatives, and will hopefully inspire people to think about how peer support can be used to improve health and care.

The Lab Essays will consist of six essays in total, the first three published in May 2018 with the remaining three to be published in August 2018.

Peer Support Evidence Hub

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.

Learn more and stay connected

  • Read the Lab Essays which summarise what the Lab is, our learning on peer support and the new insights from a YouGov survey on decision-making in peer support.
  • Join the Q Lab peer support online group. Make new connections and share and discuss ideas on peer support.
  • Read more about the Peer Support Evidence Hub and sign-up to the newsletter from National Voices to get involved.