Service User perspective

Service User perspective in the education of social workers in Great Britain

As the requirement in the UK is for service users and carers to be involved at all levels of social work education, people are recognised as being ‘experts by experience’ and are involved in;

  • Interviewing prospective students.
  • Student induction – service users, carers, staff and students meet together as ‘people first’.
  • Service users, carers (adults and young people) facilitate/teach sessions to students (e.g. children teaching adults communication skills).
  • Some people contribute their stories for teaching purposes which is incorporated into teaching in many different ways. One example is where someone’s experience is presented as the basis for group presentation work, whereby the student’s task is to identify relevant considerations for working in this context. The service user observes the group presentations and contributes to the assessment feedback, when this is completed he/she returns to tell their complete story and answers questions, which opens new perspectives for everyone involved.
  • There is involvement in other assessment processes with a specific emphasis on work placements where feedback is gathered from service users and carers, where possible as part of the student’s portfolio.
  • Service user/carer appointments;- provides additional placement support whereby students’ can make an appointment with a service user or carer at college, to discuss a particular problem they may be experiencing at placement in relation to best supporting someone(respecting confidentiality and anonymity). This provides the benefit of receiving guidance and insight from someone with experience having been in similar circumstances which is very different to the practice educator or tutor guidance.
  • A similar approach is taken with young people who prefer to meet collectively to answer questions with students as a ‘young people’s panel’.
  • DVD’s have been made with people on a wide range of topics (see further )
  • There are a lot of creative involvement e.g. Deaf people leading a sing and sign rap session,
  • Service users, carers (adults and young people) are involved in the development of studies/modules and assuring the quality of social work education through representation at programme management boards.

By Helen Casey, Social Work lecturer, New College, Durham