National Peer Support Symposium

Watch a recording of Kidney Care UK's National Peer Support Symposium from November 2022.

Kidney Care UK hosted a National Peer Support Symposium on 17 November 2022.

The event was aimed at:

  • Kidney patients who are already peer supporters, or who are interested in becoming peer supporters
  • Healthcare professionals who have already been involved in peer support programmes, or who have shown an interest in peer support

Attendees heard from experts in peer support, discovered how to kick-start or revitalise their peer support programme and became part of an expert community interest group to improve peer support access and quality.

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National Peer Support Symposium: top 10 tips for peer support

  1. Involve patients wherever and whenever possible. A peer support service should be co-produced, with patients’ needs and requirements being the key considerations. Get patients involved as early as possible in the planning and delivery to give them a sense of ownership and empowerment.
  2. Appoint a Peer Support Champion to lead on the development of the service. This could be a well-motivated patient, a nurse, consultant, social worker, charity contact etc. The key criteria are a passion for peer support and an understanding of kidney disease. A larger steering group can then be built to develop the service.
  3. Be organised. Have a clear set of policies and procedures in place to cover issues such as volunteer recruitment, training, matching processes, evaluation etc.
  4. Raise awareness. The more people who are aware of your peer support service the greater the chance of its success. Try to involve other hospital departments such as renal social workers, PALS and fundraising to potentially help with finances.
  5. Ask for help. Seek support from Trusts and organisations who have established peer support services to see what works well and how it can be adapted for your own circumstances. Learn from others rather than re-invent the wheel.
  6. Ensure diversity. Your peer supporters should reflect and be able to identify with the patient population they are working with. A targeted recruitment campaign involving community organisations can help with this.
  7. Know your limitations. Peer support should focus on patient empowerment – helping them to find their own answers. It is NOT a counselling service or a substitute for medical advice. Know when and how to signpost for additional help – for both patients and peer supporters themselves.
  8. Be flexible. Not everyone will want to meet face-to-face for example or be comfortable taking in a group, so telephone or online support sessions may be beneficial. Consider whether a unit-specific or more regional approach is more effective for your patient population, bearing in mind that people may live in one area but receive treatment in another. It will also be important to consider patients who have English as an additional language or who may face cultural/religious barriers to accessing treatment.
  9. Be patient. An effective peer support service takes time to implement effectively and will naturally evolve and develop over time.
  10. Use the toolkit. Our Peer Support Toolkit is intended as a starting point to highlight the factors you may need to consider to set-up a peer support service, who needs to be involved and how the service can be monitored and evaluated. Use and adapt it to suit your requirements.

National Peer Support Symposium speakers

  • Eleri Wood - Nurse Consultant, King's College Hospital
  • Nicola Thomas - Professor of Kidney Care, London South Bank University
  • Paul Bristow - Chief Executive of Kidney Care UK
  • Joanne Popham - Chief Executive of Popham Kidney Support
  • Jacqui Byfield – Renal Care Practitioner, East and North Herts NHS Trust
  • Andy Henwood - York Kidney Patient Peer Support Network
  • Jyoti Baharani - Nephrologist and Associate Medical Director, UHB
  • Richard Endacott - Peer Supporter
  • Sarah Oakley - Director of Patient Support Services, Kidney Care UK