Not just an autobiography
In old horror films, the professor always had a shelf of jars containing medical specimens, while during the hospital ward round, the consultant would point out symptoms without speaking to the patient at all. Our goal is to create much more of a partnership with service users and carers, so that, for example, people establish an ongoing working relationship with students or deliver wider teaching rather than simply becoming a passive medical exhibit. So at the University of Sunderland, for example, students meet service users for coffee, cake and conversation as part of their induction to the course, positioning their contribution right from the beginning.
For an example of collaborative teaching in which service users and carers work alongside academics, see this report from Birmingham.
A variety of media may be used, including films, realtime on-screen interviews (perhaps via Skype), and live presentations. This guide may help you choose between film and live presentations in the classroom while the Support and Supervision page will help with providing good support to service users and carers who contribute to the teaching programme. People certainly need clear preparation, so they know what is required and what learning outcomes are envisaged, and an effective debrief afterwards.
Create a system
The service user advisory group at the University of Essex have developed a one-page summary of the mutual obligations that academic staff and service users have towards one another in order for the event to be a success. At Edge Hill University, teaching staff use this request form to specify what sort of input they want in a teaching session, while at IMPACT at the University of Worcester, they use this evaluation form to collect feedback from students and tutors after service users and carers have delivered a teaching session.
Issues and examples
- At UCS and the University of Leeds, all lecturers must be DBS checked or chaperoned
- At UCS, service user lecturers are briefed before each session and spend time on the debrief afterwards too.
- Sometimes, a student will only ask significant questions if the academic lecturer is absent.
- The academic may be able to show the link with the wider curriculum, although some service users and carers can do this too.
- The tutor can fill any knowledge gaps and correct any inaccuracies pertinent to the session.
- Bringing extra people into the classroom can be voyeuristic and inhibit open discussion.
- Large groups of students are often co-taught (at the University of Central Lancashire there may be up to 800 students in a lecture), whether by academics working together or with a service user or carer.
- The academic can address disruptive or disrespectful conduct from students or inappropriate input from service users or carers.
- At the University of Essex, the involvement lead is not in the room for a particularly challenging session, but stays nearby and available to provide support.
- The academic can assess the quality of the session by being in the room.
- Many lecturers (not just service users and carers) are more at ease if they are not being observed.
- Students may be reluctant to ask penetrating questions, so the tutor can model this.
- At Anglia Ruskin University, a voluntary Buddy Scheme brings together a service user or carer with a student and they complete a workbook together over several meetings.
- At the University of Surrey, actors work as simulated patients.
- At the University of Lincoln, digital stories are used, while visiting service users focus on setting their story in the wider curriculum. In Southampton University, skype is used to involve people who cannot travel to deliver the teaching in person.
- Edge Hill University has a simulated ward, staffed by academic staff, actors and service users. At Canterbury Christchurch University, the simulated ward has been used to train all students in Adult Nursing to respond to adults with learning disabilities, with an evaluation by Nazarjuk et al (2013) showing real benefits.