Peter Bates > Service user and carer involvement in nurse education > Train service users and carers

Train service users and carers

One tradition in the service user movement argues that if anyone needs training, it is those in power. Thus reasonable adjustments should be made so that disabled people can participate, conferences should employ signers so that deaf BSL users can understand, and documents should be prepared in clear language so that learning disabled people can make sense of them. For example, researchers at the University of Salford developed a course to train academics in public involvement.

In nurse education, providing training to service users and carers risks socialising them into the culture of the provider. Here’s a radical example of training in committee skills from a mental health services consumer group that illustrates that it is not necessary to socialise people into the traditional culture. .

Bournemouth University offers this Induction Pack here to service users and carers, while the University of Warwick have decided to offer a training programme for service users and carers, with one of the six days focused on training for teaching. See the outline of the course here. Training for particular aspects of involvement can help people to participate, such as at the University of Sunderland, where service users and carers are trained in the Calgary-Cambridge approach to communication in clinical settings and how to give constructive feedback before offering feedback to student nurses.

Some broad topics are relevant for anyone, such as this online course in Equality and Diversity or online courses on Community Engagement. Neighbouring organisations that are promoting citizen participation may also run training events that will be helpful to some. For example, the Clinical Commissioning Group in Leeds offers a Patient Leadership programme, that, while it does not offer help in teaching, has many components relevant to service users and carers who contribute to nurse education.

Service users and carers should be involved in designing the training – especially people who have been involved for some time, as they will know best what is needed. Clarity about the admission requirements for the training event (academic background, knowledge of nurse education, concentration, literacy etc), and for the task that the trained people will be expected to undertake, will really help people to decide for themselves whether they wish to participate.

It is frustrating for people to be trained and then find that they are not invited to do anything with what they have learnt, so the number of people trained and the proximity in time to the involvement opportunity need to be carefully planned.

Where service users and carers are required to undertake ‘mandatory’ training on a subject such as equalities or data protection, then joining in with staff in the same event will help people feel that they are a real part of the organisation.


  • Training on equality and diversity is mandatory before service users do anything at the University of Lincoln
  • At the University of Hertfordshire, Viewpoint supplies service users and carers who have attained the City & Guilds 6502 Level 3 in Education and Training.
  • Service users and carers have access to the university library at De Montfort University and Bucks New University.
  • Staff in-house lectures and the short course programme are open to service users and carers at De Montfort University, the University of Nottingham and the University of Central Lancashire
  • At Bucks New University, the University Registry Department has trained service users and carers in preparation for their involvement in Fitness to Practice Panels.
  • At the University of Leeds, a service user and a staff member have worked together to deliver a training session to service users and carers on how to use one’s personal story to achieve learning outcomes.
  • At De Montfort University, Patient Advisers are trained in how to prepare teaching sessions, manage a class and deal with disruption.
  • To avoid depersonalisation, where the service user or carer tells their story so often that it loses its potency for the person themselves, the University of Leeds will sometimes ask people to tell it to camera and then use it in digital format instead.
  • Cooper & Spencer-Dawe (2006) report on how they trained service users and carers in working with co-facilitators.