We have just had our peer support training day with psychologist Michael Tunnecliffe.
About fifteen people of all ages completed the one day course to qualify as foundation members of our peer support team.
I learnt that peer support is a lot more serious than getting people together for a chat. Michael explained that having a structure for people to follow helps ensure that more effective support is given.
In particular, the group learnt that it is important to avoid dependancy relationships as this is not sustainable or helpful to the adjustment process.
What is aimed for in peer support is perhaps two to three meetings (or more where appropriate). It is about people helping someone through the experience of eye loss that they themselves have experienced.
The peer support person is encouraged to avoid the role of general counsellor. Michael explained how important it is for people who require additional support to get that support from a trained professional.
What the peer support programme aims to do is to put in place an experienced listener. People feel more at ease in the company of someone who has “been there”.
All our trainees are looking forward to putting into practice what they have learnt. We are committed to this programme and will be repeating the training next year.
I felt really good about the training day itself. It is another important milestone in our plan to put excellent support services in place for people experiencing eye loss.