Practical learning: achieving excellence in the human services

January 23-25 2008 Edinburgh International Conference Centre

Building & maintaining bridges: learning the lessons on the journey to involvement

Keywords: Service User involvement, Professional Education, Assessing Practice

Authors: Jim Sinclair (Fife Council Social Work Service); John Dow (University of Dundee CU Group); Richard Ingram (University of Dundee)

"We think the most important qualities for social service workers are anti-discriminatory values, respectful attitudes and very good personal communication skills. Users and carers should be involved in training workers to make sure people understand why this is important." (Users and Carers Panel, 21st Century Review).

For a good many years now there have been individuals and groups, both within the caring professions and outwith, who have strived to see the involvement of those who use and receive services in the training of professionals. This goal has been realised to an extent within social work education where the involvement of service users and carers in the development and delivery of training programmes has been incorporated into the standards for qualifying programmes. The reality, however, is that in practice each of the Universities delivering the programmes do so with varying levels of involvement. At the University of Dundee, service user and carer involvement runs like a thread throughout the programmes.

This paper will explore the development of service user and carer involvement at the University of Dundee and its impact upon learning from the perspective of a service specialist (service user expert), an academic and a student of the programme. A number of issues will be explored including: how do we measure the impact of this upon practice?; how do we consolidate what we have achieved so far?; what does the future hold for service user and carer influence?; and how do we impact upon practitioners who do not have the benefit of this Service User and carer influence?

This paper will give the audience an insight into the development of service user and carer involvement in the development and delivery of pre-registration social work programmes at the University of Dundee. The involvement of service users and carers in this process is underpinned by the Standards in Social Work Education which regulate the delivery of qualifying programmes in Scotland. The impact of this involvement is only now beginning to be realised.
Given the importance and scope of the subject and likely impact upon professional practice this paper is likely to be of interest to Practitioners (especially Practice Teachers), Researchers, Policy Makers, Academics, Students and Service User's and Carer representatives.

Date: Friday 25 January 2008, 12.00-12.30

Venue: Ochil One

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Organised by the Institute for Research and Innovation in Social Services in association with PEPE (Practical Experiences in Professional Education).