Originally, when I saw the application for the Peer Leadership Academy, I did not know what to expect. I felt I lacked knowledge and understanding on personalised care or what personalised care actually looked like in practice. However I did have experience of peer support (through digital apps) and I also found myself attracted to finding out more about how personalised care actually worked as it looked like a really good idea moving forward in health. I have always been passionate about improving people’s health as a result of my own experiences and thought this sounded like a good idea to find out more about.
I developed many skills at the Academy, but my biggest development was around how I interacted with people. One of the best things about the Academy is the vast range of people in the room with different experiences all from different paths in life. For me (particularly living with Asperger’s) I found it was a step outside my comfort zone in terms of socialising and communicating. I have often chosen to interact with people either like myself or similar to my identity. But I have gained more confidence and skills in terms of socialising and communicating, and also learned to reflect upon my style of communication as well. We did a Myers Briggs, and I have learned so much about myself, but I am also learning about how to be respectful towards other people’s styles and ways of doing things to enable us to work more effectively as a team.
I think my experience of the Peer Leadership Academy helped me to grow and develop. It did challenge me to step outside of my comfort zone and I am really grateful for this challenge as I can definitely say it helped me to develop. The academy was 2 days each month for 3 months (6 days), but I always travelled up the day before. I remember travelling up on the first day by myself with no idea what to expect, who I would be with or what it would be like. But I also remember on the last day coming home by myself thinking that I wish there were more Academy sessions planned each month. I heard so many personal stories and was inspired by each one of them, for they never gave up and they continued to inspire others and show that there was no limit to what they can achieve. There was a lot of laughter and it never felt like you were doing this alone. The facilitators were very supportive of everyone and made sure that we were all okay, practically and emotionally.
I’m really pleased, following the Peer Leadership Academy, to be part of the National Strategic Co-Production Group as part of the NHS Personalised Care Group. Here we can we work together through co-production to push for better health outcomes and continue to support people’s individual needs through personalising their care.
If you would like to find out more about the latest Peer Leadership Academy and how you can apply, you can download the latest application leaflet here.