The ALF Project is a small, local pilot project which has succeeded in engaging people with long term health conditions to become actively involved with improving the lives of other patients and service users. The core activity is a skilled conversation between a trained learning facilitator and patients and service users attending local GP surgeries.
We have learned from listening to many patients how valuable these conversations have been in helping them think about becoming actively involved in learning.
Key aims were to:
• Mobilise the potential of local people with long term heath conditions, including expert patients/ service users to become expert facilitators of informal adult learning.
• Design and implement a model of self managed learning that drew its strength from self management and self care in the health sector.
• Engage with people from amongst those sections in our community who experience on a daily basis the human cost of social exclusion, health inequalities, loneliness and isolation.
• Offer help and support to patients and service users, by encouraging them to become actively involved in learning of their choice, and by doing so increase confidence and interest in learning and personal development.
• Recruit new cohorts of active learning facilitators from amongst patients and service users whom we were to meet in GP surgeries and other health related locations.
• Explore the potential of GP surgeries to become the organisational context for developing learning activities in support of active patient and public involvement.
In the words of one Alf:
“I now have the confidence to go to engage with patients, service users and NHS staff in GP surgeries in Lambeth. I can understand and empathise with people with long term health conditions, who are caught up in dealing with their health condition. I help facilitate their learning and focus on self management and decision making skills. They trust me, as I have a long term health condition myself, but I am a facilitator and an active expert patient. I identify with the issues they’re going through, and I am a resource for them for further learning and engagement in the local health system”.
Institute of Leadership and Service Improvement Faculty of Health and Social Care University.
London South Bank
With thanks to ENOPE (Patient Empowerment. Living with Chronic Disease)
Part of a series of short discussion topics on different aspects of self-management and patient empowerment written by ENOPE members for the 1st European conference on patient empowerment (ENOPE)