Roehampton Service User and Carer Partnership (SUCP)
People with experience of health and social care services supporting the education of tomorrow's professionals
SUCP is a point-of-contact between the University of Roehampton and the wider public. It provides opportunities for service users and carers to become involved with activities related to health and social care education. SUCP has been developed to facilitate engagement with the local population, and to embed the service user and carer voice into our professional programmes. SUCP offers a range of ways that you can choose to be involved and make a difference to the education of future nurses and other health and social care professionals. We ensure you are fully supported throughout.
We are particularly keen to engage with the following groups:
- People who have received care from a health or social care professional in the community
- People with a long term condition or illness affecting physical or mental health
- People with a disability
- People who have been in hospital
- People who provide support or care to others
- People who identify as a service user or carer
However these are just examples; don't worry if your experience doesn’t quite match any of these descriptions, we would still be very keen to hear from you.
The University is committed to welcoming people from a variety of backgrounds and experiences to join SUCP. There are many definitions of what constitutes a ‘service user’ or ‘carer’. The University adopts an inclusive approach and regards ‘service users’ as people who are experts by experience, who currently, previously or may, in the future, access services relevant to our professional practice programmes. We use the term ‘carer’ to refer to someone who provides or has provided support to a family member, partner or friend. Service users and carers may become involved as individuals or as representatives of a group.
Service users and carers are currently involved with the following programmes:
- Department of Psychology
- MA Art Psychotherapy
- MA Dramatherapy
- MA Music Therapy
- PsychD Counselling Psychology
- Department of Life Sciences
There are lots of different ways to get involved with SUCP and we've listed just a few of them below. However you choose to participate, you can commit as much or as little time as you like. As an expert by experience, you will be able to offer valuable insights to students and course teams to ensure health and social care education is a true reflection of real life, and that health professionals are fit for purpose at the end of it.
Some examples of involvement opportunities are listed below.
Course design, development and evaluation
You don't need experience of academia or education to be able to provide valuable insights into course design. Co-production is as essential in health and social care education design as it is in health and social care service design. You would have the opportunity to inform aims of student learning, what they learn and how they are assessed
Student recruitment and selection
Student recruitment and selection can be hugely rewarding as you have a direct impact on choosing the professionals of the future, the types of students recruited and accepted onto our health and social care programmes. You might be involved with designing and reviewing interview questions or undertaking interviews with candidates.
Sharing your story
Hearing about experiences of health and social care from real people can be an incredibly powerful learning experience. If you are happy talking to small groups of students (or maybe even large groups!), you could come and share your story and answer questions. There may also be opportunities to share your story in other ways through written forms, audio or video.
Role play (Nursing only)
Simulated learning is a big part of some of our programmes and we have specialist facilities to ensure the environment is as realistic as possible. You might enjoy playing the role of a service user or carer in a simulated learning environment. This could involve playing yourself or someone else, depending on how comfortable you feel with role play.
Again, you don’t need experience of academia or education to be involved with assessment. This is another great opportunity to influence the knowledge and skills that health and social care professionals gain by the end of their degree. You might be involved with setting questions, providing feedback or contributing to decisions about student performance standards in assessments.
Service users and carers have a valuable role to play in health and social care research. This may involve research design and development, but could also include being the subject of a research study by completing a questionnaire or providing your perspective through an interview.
Guiding the strategic direction of SUCP
It is essential that service user and carer involvement is guided by the people that participate. Our Service User and Carer Strategy group meets several times a year to discuss the activities which come under SUCP. The group reviews the policies and processes that underpin service user and carer involvement to ensure that involvement is safe, effective and well-managed.
There are many benefits of service user and carer involvement for students, for the members of the public themselves and for the University. Studies show many benefits of including service users and carers in the learning process:
- Involving service users and carers enhances student learning, positively influences their future professional practice and impacts on service users' experience and outcomes.
- Sustained interaction with service users and carers helps students become more sensitive to service user and carer perspectives, appreciate their diversity and recognise the need for openness when working with them.
- Partnership with service users and carers is necessary for true inclusion, where there is openness to the views of people not normally considered as educators.
- Dialogue and contact with service users and carers has been shown to develop students' empathy, improve communication and negotiation skills and promote effective shared decision making and partnership working.
- Service users and carers report feeling empowered through involvement in education programmes, because of increased confidence and improved feelings of self-worth.
- Involvement of service users is also reported as an effective way for the professions to reflect a commitment towards social justice.
At Roehampton service users feel they are contributing significantly towards the future development of health professionals.
I care passionately about the NHS and feel that the new Adult Nursing Programme at the University of Roehampton has a lot to offer prospective Nursing Students who are interested in Community or Primary Care. This is why I have agreed to become a Service User and Carer for the programme. Having recently been in hospital I appreciate good practices in health care and Roehampton have listened and taken on board my experiences, and I feel that the programme reflects my views and any relevant issues I have faced. I look forward to continuing my involvement with Roehampton.
For many years I have believed that the experiences and knowledge of parents and carers are a crucial ingredient in the alchemy of support round those we care for. I felt passionately that if the carer perspective could be communicated to future professionals at training level, that understanding could radiate out and really make a difference to the experiences of both service-users and carers. I had previously been a music therapist, but when I became a carer I realised how little I had understood during my training and my early years of practice about the experiences of, demands on and knowledge held by carers. I came to see that the carer can contribute significantly to the prognosis of the person they are caring for – but in order to make that contribution, the carer needs to feel heard, supported and understood by medical and other professionals. The words of Francis Edwards (Paediatric Palliative Care Liaison Nurse, from a BBC programme ‘Inside the Ethics Committee’) became my mantra: ‘You ignore mothers at your peril as a professional’ – this applies, of course, to all carers, as well as mothers.
When I was asked to contribute my voice as a carer to the therapeutic and, later, nursing training courses at the University of Roehampton, through the SUCP forum, I realised that this was a creative and positive way of achieving what I had hoped for: to enable future professionals to relate with more understanding and awareness to carers and to realise just how valuable a carer’s input can be, in advocating for the person they are caring for. My experience of being involved in this way, working directly with course leaders and service users and having an active role in the learning and experiences of the students, has been extremely positive, and I come away from every SUCP meeting with a sense of having done something useful. I feel enriched by my involvement with the Forum, and this of course affects my ability to be a carer, and thereby affects my daughter – a positive cycle.
Training at Roehampton as a Dramatherapist was a great experience or me, both in terms of professional and personal development. During my training, I made no secret of my struggle with mental health and being an ex-service user. The therapeutic elements of the course supported me with my personal development and I felt very held and recognised as a trainee with service user history. Being invited back to be part of the SUCP was a great honour. This has been a great opportunity and platform to give space and time to think about people coming from a similar background to myself and work within a very containing team to think about how we can enhance the experience of ex-service users and carers who are undergoing their training at Roehampton.
What is lived-experienced? Does it mean you live with a diagnosis, disability or label? Is your experience of bereavement, seeking asylum, addiction, cancer, work-related stress, psychiatric treatment…? Was your experience in this country or abroad, using private or public services?
I suspect if we were to broaden the term, most students would identify as lived experienced: encountering trauma, despair, sorrow, fear, bereavement, deprivation, aggression, anxiety, pain or depression at some stage in their lives.
As a practising art psychotherapist and clinical supervisor, I have contributed to the University of Roehampton's SUCP group since July 2016. Although I did not study at Roehampton, I am passionate about developing health and social care services and training which hold service users' authentic experiences at the heart of what they do. There is a multifaceted spectrum of experience among University stakeholders and I am committed to supporting educators and students to safely reflect and make sense of what personal and professional lived experience means for them.
We offer a range of support for our service user and carer partners, including:
- Induction/taster events
- Equality and diversity
- Health and Safety
- Remuneration – payment for your time
- Safeguarding and risk assessment
- Engagement events
If you would like to get involved or just to find out more, please contact our SUCP Co-ordinator, Ema Mannan.