Mark Young was working as a Community Support Guide when he took part in the Lambeth Living Well Collaborative’s AAP (Assessment, Action, Planning) prototype in the summer of 2012.The prototype brought together a multi-disciplinary team of professionals and peer supporters to work differently with three key risk groups from secondary and primary care.
Mark, (pictured left with Gideon Lamptey from the Primary Care and Support Service, and Liz Lawrence from Community Connectors) who was working with the Community Options Team (COT), found the experience invaluable and it has given him an excellent vantage point as the Living Well Network Hub opens for business. The journey highlights the co-production ethos to treat everyone as partners in service design and delivery.
Reflecting at the time on the intensive six-week prototype Mark explained that “everyone invested a lot of effort, put their jobs on hold (or did their job as well, scaled down a bit). It was great to be able to meet up with the team three times a week. “I liked the fact that clients weren’t assigned to specific people, it was more a team’s caseload and that each member brought different skills… On the COT team we all have similar support service backgrounds. I liked the way that every client was discussed in detail and really valued the input of peer supporters. “While people did form specific relationships with clients, the open caseload as a team responsibility worked well.” It also helped Mark to recognise that working with people on what works best for them can also be a bonus, for example, “engaging on a practical level (helping someone to have their flat cleaned and putting someone in touch with an old friend) felt like a result”. Having access to personal budgets also helped people’s goals to be more achievable.
Mark says having access to peer support advice was an excellent resource. It also highlighted different approaches to safeguarding and risk. “As support workers we tend to go out in twos at first to ensure things are ok… Peer supporters didn’t have the same barriers as members of the team may have.” Peer supporters from the first Missing Link cohort involved in the prototype said they felt valued, “that at last our voices could be heard amongst clinicians”,said one. “We were up for the challenge to be tested by the complex cases and everyone was very supportive, said another. “They appreciated our input, which was our lived experience and human-centred approach to service users”.
Commenting on the new hub Mark outlines the similarities, meeting regularly to discuss clients, “we have input from a number of teams with different skills/knowledge and good access to other services within the Living Well Network,” he says.
The second cohort of Missing Link peer supporters are now working with referrals from the hub for up to 12 weeks in the community. “I think the hub team are really open to doing things differently and as such appreciate the contribution of peer support, ” says Missing Link Coordinator Lucas Teague. “I think there is still some way to go though in getting peer supporters properly integrated. Presently the budget covers peer supporters to offer 2 hours paid work with their peer, we need additional capacity for more of them to attend the client review meetings. From what we’ve seen with the original AAP prototype having the right mix of people around the table in the right numbers helps to change the dynamic and bring a different perspective. This is crucial if we are looking to view mental health issues jointly and within a clinical and social context.”
Photo: Sophie Walker