Japleen Kaur, Head of Volunteering Services at Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust developed and runs the Lived Experience Practitioner (LXP) Project.
The LXP project commenced in 2012 as a knowledge transfer partnership between Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust and Canterbury Christ Church University. The overall aim was to redesign employment processes to ensure the sustainable implementation of individuals with lived experience of mental health issues as peer support workers to improve service delivery.
Oxleas NHS Foundation trust has a long track record of co-developing local mental health services with service user and carer involvement. This has often been on an informal basis, but over time this approach has taken on more significance with the rise of the recovery ethos, social inclusion, self-management and personal growth agendas becoming integral parts of mental health services. The importance of services making available staff or volunteers who are able to share their lived experience is now locally and internationally recognised as a major contribution to the model of recovery. The Trust wished to take these core aspects of the peer support function and develop them within more formal and intentional paid and unpaid roles with this underpinned by transparent processes and good corporate governance.
To meet this need there was a requirement to redesign the existing model for workforce development in mental health services so that it recognised the importance of the ‘expert by experience’ approach.
The project has achieved its main aims and objectives. Seven LXPs including a LXP lead have been employed and a further two posts are in the process of being recruited. There are current discussions with regards a further three posts being created. A structured 12 week training programme has been devised as well as a trainee mentoring programme with the introduction of LXPs into the trust supported by transparent processes and good corporate governance.
Some examples of their roles and responsibilities include:
- Updating RIO
- Weekly attendance at team Reflective Practice meeting, team Ward Round meetings
- Supporting the profile of LXPs within the trust
- Support clients to interact with social networking, gain voluntary or paid employment, accessing training and education
- Develop professional boundaries with service users and members of the teams
- Provide practical support to service users to help them develop in their recovery
- Contribute to service users care plan, help them to action their recovery plan whilst promote positive risk taking
- Share own personal experience of MH when relevant with SU’s to promote hope and inspiration to aid their recovery.
- Signposting to relevant services
- Facilitating groups
The initial evaluation of the role suggests that the LXPs provide a valuable service and work well with other members of the clinical team. The LXP project is fully embedded into the company partner organisation with the Trust taking on the maintenance and development of these roles. Further expansion, of the role into new areas, including non-mental health LXPs are planned.
Service users were an integral part of the development of the LXP role. They proposed the title “Lived Experience Practitioner” as opposed to the original title of “peer support worker”.
There were service users, professionals and managers involved in a number of work-streams advising on different policies and procedures to support the introduction of the LXP role into the Trust. There was also a significant cultural change in the organisation; the Trust is fully committed to working with people with lived experience of mental health service as peer collaborators in providing care and support.