Issue/Problem The Centre Chronically Ill and Work (CCZW), is a knowledge centre that focuses on living and working with a chronic disease or disorder, and has been set up and is run by people suffering from a chronic illness, The main activity of the Centre is the “Certification of experts-by-experience: Work and Participation” (Certificering ervaringsdeskundigen Werk en Participatie), for which the Centre works closely together with seven national patient organisations. The certification of experts by experience is financed by the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports. The project is built around the philosophy that certain coaching and training skills are not (only) generated by knowledge but also by personal experiences. People with a chronic illness are being trained to make use of their own personal experiences (linked to their disease) in order to help others who are going through similar processes. The Centre works solely with professionals who have a degree in (patient) counselling or are trained in coaching. Moreover, all coaches receive a certificate at the end of their training, which is accredited by Top Kairos, a Dutch training institute. This further ensures the professional quality of the services offered.
Results Coaches have to complete a professional training programme within six to nine months including a three-day training in self-management skills offered by the HAN University of Applied Sciences. On average, it takes around 60-80 hours to complete the full programme. At the end of the training programme, the coaches will receive a certificate, which allows them to have their “soft skills” recognised in a professional manner. Twenty-five people have so far successfully completed the “experts-by-experience” training and coaches were trained. The Centre received in October 2013 the certificate “model of good practice” in promoting healthy work for people with a chronic illness, of the European Network Workplace Health Promotion (ENWHP).
Lessons: The concept of providing support to people with a chronic illness by people who are suffering from a chronic condition as well has been received very positively. The coaches are able to empathise and provide personal and targeted advice and support. A close cooperation and active involvement of the patient organisations often results in a widespread promotion of the services that can be offered by the coaches, as the patient organisations fully understand and recognise the importance of the role that these experts-by-experience can play for chronic patients.
Disclosure of Interest None declared