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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness




This page contains guidance for AIMS Peer-Reviewers, as well as information on how to become a Peer-Reviewer.


As part of the accreditation process, each ward receives a Peer-Review from a team made up of professionals from other member services, as well as a Service User and/or Carer representative.


Please click the links below for more information:



Why become a Peer-Reviewer?

Joining a Peer-Review Team provides a valuable opportunity to visit other wards and share ideas and experience.

We hope that the visits will be interesting for both the reviewers and the ward team. The experience may also help professional Peer-Reviewers prepare for their own AIMS Peer-Review Visit.


The review process works on the basis that reviewers make a generous donation of their time and input. We can however, reimburse travel and subsistence expenses.


Who can become a Peer-Reviewer?

  • People who work in an inpatient mental health ward which is a member of AIMS.
  • People who have been an inpatient on a mental health ward.
  • People who care for/have cared for someone with a mental illness and have experience of inpatient mental health services.


How do I become a Peer-Reviewer?

You will need to be trained in reviewing. Dates of upcoming training days are listed below. Contact us to register your interest. If there are no dates listed, we will take your details and contact you as soon as a new date is set down.


What does training involve?

Training to become a Peer-Reviewer takes just one day. It is free for professionals whose service is a member of AIMS, and for Service User and Carer representatives.


The training day is lead by members of the AIMS team, and will provide an overview of the AIMS process and Peer-Review timetable to give you an idea of how the visit works.


For Service User and Carer representatives, AIMS will book or reimburse travel, as well as paying a session fee of £100 for the day. For more details, see "Attending a Peer-Review: What about expenses?" on our FAQ page.


When is your next training day?

Our next training day is to be confirmed - please contact the AIMS Project Team to express your interest, and we will contact you once the date has been set.


How can I find out where and when the visits are?

  • Once you are trained you are required to attend at least one Peer-Review; however, you can choose which review(s) you would like to attend. 
  • We will never force you to attend a review or send you somewhere you don't want to go. 
  • We will send you email updates every few weeks with new Peer-Review dates; usually these will be several months in advance.
  • Depending on distance, sometimes an overnight stay is necessary the night before a review.


Who attends a Peer-Review Visit?

  • Each Peer-Review Team is made up of three professionals, one Service User representative and/or one Carer representative.
  • The three professionals will be from different services participating in AIMS, and may include a staff member from the AIMS Team.
  • The Peer-Review Team members must not be from within the same organisation as the service under review
  • The Peer-Review Team members will receive a copy of the Peer-Review Booklet and guidance documents at least a week before the visit.


What happens on a Peer-Review Visit?

  • The primary purpose of a Peer-Review is to validate the Self-Review data - which has been submitted by the people who have contact with the service. The AIMS Team will put this data together in a Peer-Review Booklet.
  • A review takes place from 9:30am - 4:30pm.  An example timetable can be seen here.
  • A series of meetings take place on a Peer-Review day, including the Service User or Carer representative meeting with other Services Users and Carers who have been involved with the service to ask them about their experiences. 
  • A scribe can be appointed to take notes in their Peer-Review Booklet in each meeting, or the team can share this responsibility.
  • Lunch and refreshments are provided by the Host Team.
  • At the end of the day, the Review Team must decide whether each standard should be rated as Met or Not Met. This can be written in the shaded boxes in the booklet.


For further information about what happens on a peer-review visit, click here.


What does a Lead Reviewer do?

The Lead Reviewer does just that - lead the Review Team.  They have a few extra responsibilities:

  • They should get in touch with the rest of the Review Team and the Host Team, before the review, to introduce themselves and offer to answer any queries.  This is a good opportunity to exchange mobile phone numbers in case of an emergency or late running.


  • The Lead Reviewer welcomes the Host Team at the introductory meeting, explaining a bit about the programme, the process and asking for introductions.  Guidance on what to say is in the Peer-Review guidance document you will have been supplied with.


  • The Lead Reviewer can choose to lead discussion about the Self-Review data during the meetings themselves, or share this responsibility.


  • At the end of the day, the Lead Reviewer thanks the Host Team and Review Team. They can also send a courtesy email to the Review Team and Host Team after the review, to thank them again.


  • They then collect in all the Peer-Review Booklets from the rest of the team, compile the comments into one booklet and return all the copies - including notes from the service user and carer meetings - to the AIMS Team within three working days.

Where next...


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"I have been very impressed with the overall organisation of the AIMS process both through my involvement in the AC and the reviews I have done so far... I am happy to say that the AIMS accreditation in my opinion is the most holistic and meaningful scheme I have come across in (20 years in Mental Health), in particular I would support the multi-professional approach and the full involvement of patients and carers in evaluating and improving a service."


- Professional Peer-Reviewer, 2011



“Reviewing and analysing another unit in-depth makes you realise how much knowledge you have that you take for granted in familiar settings, and it makes you look afresh at your own service.”


- Professional Peer-Reviewer, 2011



"[It was] very useful to learn the peer-review process in terms of relating to [our] own ward review - [it] reduces anxiety."


- Professional Peer-Reviewer, 2011