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Involving Service Users and Carers
in Social Work Education

Here at Havering College of Further and Higher Education we involve Service Users and Carers in all aspects of student learning. Students have the opportunity to learn through people’s real-life experiences and stories, to understand the point of view of service users and carers and use this to enhance and improve their contribution to social work practice.

Service User and Carer involvement is embedded throughout the Social Work teaching from development of the programme to recruitment and assessment of students.

We know from student feedback that this early involvement of Service Users and Carers in their learning experience can help to enhance a person-centred approach to care from the beginning of their professional life.

The Participation Project has been running at Havering College for over 6 years. We have 2 Involvement Co-ordinators who actively seek users and carers from within the local community who would like to help improve training for future service providers.

If you are currently using (or have recently used) social services, or care for someone using similar services, we would like to hear from you. We currently have a diverse group of people on the Project, and are happy to hear from anyone wishing to join. However, we would particularly like to hear from anyone with the following experience:
• Young carers (for digital storytelling)
• Care leavers
• Unaccompanied minors with experience of the care system
• People who have experienced care procedures
• Those escaping domestic violence

Activities you can be involved in

You can help in a variety of ways:

Telling your story
Sharing your life experience with a group of students helps them to understand what life is like for you and the different types of help which you require from service providers. It gives you an opportunity to share positive and not so positive experiences of working with professionals.

Having an equal say in the selection of students by ensuring Service User and Carer involvement in interviews and that those offered a place on the course have the qualities and commitment required to undertake the training.

Service Users and Carers are also involved in the recruitment and selection process for academic staff in the Social Policy team.

We hold a Forum 3 times a year and everyone in the Participation Project is welcome. We sometimes have guest speakers and discuss relevant topics e.g. benefits, equality & diversity and other pertinent areas in relation to involvement in the Project. Service Users and Carers are given the opportunity to discuss their classroom experiences and this gives others in the group the chance to provide support and share new ideas.

Teaching and Assessing Students
Service Users and Carers are able to assess student presentations and give valuable feedback from a user perspective. They watch student role-plays and give feedback which students are required to incorporate into their final assignments.

Service Users and Carers also take part in Practice Assessment Panels where they are able to comment on the portfolios students produce to showcase the learning they have achieved on placement. They play an equal part in agreeing suitability to practice. The Service Users and Carers feel this is an important part of their role within the college.

Shaping the course
Service Users and Carers are involved with the course from the outset. They play a part in the validation of the course and attend the Programme Management Committee (PMC) meetings. These take place on a regular basis and are made up of lecturers, service users and carers, students and representatives of employer organisations. It provides a forum in which discussions can take place between the main stakeholders in the delivery of the course. It forms part of the ongoing evaluation of the programme which is crucial to further development. Service Users and Carers have a slot on the agenda where they are asked to contribute.

Contact us
If you would like to join the Participation Project at Havering College, or you know someone who does, please contact:

Jules Goodger                               Carol Massey
01708 455 011 Ext 4022                01708 455 011 Ext 4877