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Professional education

The following resources examine the involvement of carers in shaping social work and health care professions education and training, and the importance of carers issues being reflected in course content.

Click on the title of any resource to find out more about the source of the information such as the type of reference, ISBN/ISSN, publication year, keywords. A number of these fields can be used to find further resources i.e. with the same keywords, or by the same author using the links on the right-hand side and within the Key Information box.

You can also click on an author's name in the list below to find further resources by that author, and use the DOI and other links to access the original source material (note: some source materials require subscription or permission to access).
 

Comparison of the Effect of Nurses' Education on Stress, Anxiety and Depression of Family Caregivers of Patients Hospitalized with Schizophrenia Disorder

Background of the Study: The present study aimed to determine the effectiveness of family education on depression, anxiety, and stress of family caregivers of the patients with schizophrenic disorders hospitalized in Zahedan Psychiatric Hospital. Methods: The present study was a randomized clinical trial; it evaluated the effect of a four-week psychological training program on 100 family caregivers of the patients with schizophrenic disorders hospitalized in Zahedan Psychiatric Hospital. Depression, anxiety, and stress of caregivers were determined using DASS, version 21, questionnaire. Results: Based on the analysis, the effect of education was only observed in the nurses' group, and the level of anxiety, stress, and depression decreased significantly. Having compared between the nurse and control group, the anxiety level in this group decreased significantly after the training program, and the two factors of stress and depression decreased considerably and tended to be significant. Results: In summary, the present study has shown that nursing education had a significant impact on anxiety, stress and depression factors in the patients' families; this can be employed as a new approach to improve schizophrenia patients and their families.

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Where are the family caregivers? Finding family caregiver-related content in foundational nursing documents

Informal or family caregivers are a substantial component of the U.S. health care system and are essential for addressing the needs of a growing number of U.S. citizens who are aging, managing chronic or disabling conditions, or facing life-limiting illness. The purpose of this study was to examine the representation of family caregiving in a set of foundational documents that shape nursing education, practice standard, and related policy. Electronic copies of these "canonical" documents were systematically mapped for the appearance of language, terms, and concepts related to family caregiving. Additionally, relevant passages of caregiving-related text were coded for content, phrasing, and meaning. Few meaningful references were found, exposing how the nursing profession may also be perpetuating the role of the family caregiver as unsupported and invisible. When present in the documents, family caregivers were generally situated as background or context for patient care, often as objects and less frequently as agents with influence. These findings are considered within the context of the emerging caregiving public health crisis and family caregiver health outcomes, family caregiver integration into the health care team, nursing education and practice standards, nursing leadership and workforce development, and nursing's policy advocacy role.

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Confessions of a Reluctant Caregiver Palliative Educational Program: Using Readers' Theater to Teach End-of-Life Communication in Undergraduate Medical Education

End-of-life care can be stressful for patients, caregivers, and providers. Caregivers often experience high levels of burden from caregiving duties such as performing medical tasks, communicating with providers, and making decisions. Similarly, many physicians feel unprepared to provide end-of-life care or communicate with patients and families about sensitive issues associated with death and dying. Physicians often attribute their lack of preparation to inadequate training in medical school. Previous research suggests that drama-based learning opportunities are valuable supplements to existing end-of-life curricula. The current study evaluates the success of the Confessions of a Reluctant Caregiver Palliative Educational Program - a drama-based educational program that depicts patient and caregiver experiences. A total of 477 osteopathic medical students participated in the program, which includes viewing a play, engaging in a facilitated post-performance talkback session, and completing an evaluation survey. The results suggest the program is a valuable learning experience that is positively associated with important facets of experiential learning using narratives such as perceived realism, increased reflection, strong emotions, and increased comfort with difficult behaviors. The program offers a safe environment for medical students to identify, understand, and process the sensitive and complex issues associated with end-of-life care. Moreover, the play offers insight into the often-overlooked experiences of family caregivers who are at risk of experiencing high caregiver burden while managing health-related communication and decision-making.

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Caring for Family Caregivers: a Pilot Test of an Online COMFORT™ SM Communication Training Module for Undergraduate Nursing Students

Family caregivers who provide care and support to cancer patients experience distress, burden, and decreased quality of life as a result of caregiving. Caregivers often turn to nurses for support; however, there is little training available for nurses on how to care for the family caregiver. Undergraduate nursing students have a high need to learn about engaging caregivers in care, but little content is presented to fulfill that need. Derived from the COMFORT™ SM communication curriculum, we developed a 1-h online educational module specifically addressing communication with family caregivers of cancer patients. Undergraduate nursing students (n = 128) from two accredited nursing programs completed a survey at the beginning and end of the module, in addition to answering unfolding response opportunities within the module. There was a significant increase in communication knowledge, attitude, and behaviors (p < .000) in post-test responses for students across all years of study. Knowledge based on responses to case study scenarios was more than 75% correct. Student open-ended responses to case-based scenarios featured in the module revealed student mastery and ability to apply module content (range, 40-56% across four scenarios). This online COMFORT™ SM communication training module is an innovative online cancer education tool for teaching about communication with family caregivers. This study finds the module effective for teaching undergraduate nursing students about communication with family and shows promise in interprofessional curricula as well.

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Educating the next generation of family caregivers through the use of dynamic case studies

Between 2008 and 2016, students in an Introduction to Gerontology course were required to complete a dynamic case study project simulating caregiving arrangement decision making. Students were divided into groups representing typical multigenerational families and were required to determine how to develop caregiving arrangements to respond to an older family member’ s changing levels of need. The assignment concluded with students writing a final paper summarizing what they learned. This study examined the themes emerging from student group case study papers to gain an understanding of the challenges students face in understanding the dynamics of making family-based caregiving decisions. This is of particular importance as many students were seeking careers in human services and would be assisting clients in such decision-making processes, as well as involvement in decision making for their own family members. Themes that emerged from group papers and the implications related to gerontology education and policy are discussed. 

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Co‐production for service improvement: Developing a training programme for mental health professionals to enhance medication adherence in Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Service Users

AimTo co‐produce consensus on the key issues important in educating mental health‐care professionals to optimize mental health medication adherence in Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) groups. Objectives To identify perceptions of factors enabling or disabling medication adherence. To achieve consensus on content and delivery of an educational intervention for mental health‐care professionals. Methods Data were collected from 2016 to 2018. Using individual interviews and a consensus workshop with carers and service users (SUs treated under the 1983 Mental Health Act 1983/revised 2007 for England and Wales), the experience of taking prescribed mental health medication and perspectives on adherence were explored. Data were analysed using 2‐stage qualitative coding via the software tool NVivo version 11 to analyse transcribed data and to produce the main explanatory categories. Results SU and carer participants' perspectives substantially altered the original research design. The need to educate students rather than trained professionals was emphasized, and they suggested that educational content should be packaged in a contemporary manner (a virtual reality experience). Findings indicated that education should focus upon understanding the impact of taking prescribed antipsychotic medication on both SUs and carers. Discussion The importance of effective communication between health professionals, SUs and carers and a willingness to learn about and appreciate how BAME culture influences perception of mental illness and mental well‐being were highlighted. Conclusion In working co‐productively, researchers need to be flexible and adaptable to change.

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Supporting family carers in home-based end-of-life care: using participatory action research to develop a training programme for support workers and volunteers

Background: Family carers are crucial in enabling dying people to stay at home, but are often not prepared for their caring role, receiving little support from formal health and social care services. It is increasingly likely that any help or support family carers receive will be provided by a third sector organisation on either a voluntary basis or by untrained carer support workers.; Objectives: To produce a training programme designed to equip carer support workers and volunteers with the basic skills and knowledge needed to support family carers.; Process Of Development: Participatory action research, a collaborative form of working in which those who are affected by an issue take a lead role in the research, was used. Bereaved carers acting as research partners, support workers and representatives of third sector organisations took an active part in designing, developing, piloting and refining the programme in a number of interlinked stages. During development, the programme was piloted on four occasions and evaluated by 36 trainees and 3 trainers.; Final Training Programme: The outcome of the project is an innovative, 1-day training programme, offering an introduction to supporting family carers who are looking after someone approaching the end of life. The use of participatory action research methods enabled the development of a programme that addresses support needs identified by bereaved carers and training needs identified by carer support workers.The finished programme includes all the materials necessary to run a training day for support workers and volunteers: facilitator's notes, trainee workbook, slides, promotional poster and pre-course reading for trainees. Knowledge of issues involved in end-of-life and palliative care is not required, although some experience in delivering training is advisable.; Conclusion: The programme evaluated well during development, but further research is required to examine the transfer of learning into the workplace.

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Are We Ready for the CARE Act? Family Caregiving Education for Health Care Providers

The CARE Act, law in 40 states and territories in the United States, requires hospitals to identify and include family caregivers during admission and in preparation for discharge. Although the number of family caregivers has been steadily increasing, health care providers are ill-prepared to address their needs, and caregiving remains a neglected topic in health care providers' education. A market analysis was performed to explore the availability of and interest in interprofessional courses and programs focused on preparing health professionals to support family caregivers. Although nurses and chief nursing officers agreed on the importance of supporting caregivers, they were less likely to endorse formal educational preparation for this complex role. The current study elucidates a gap between what caregivers report they need and the preparation of health care professionals to advance family-centered approaches to care.

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Advancing the knowledge, skills and attitudes of mental health nurses working with families and caregivers: A critical review of the literature

Involving and supporting the family members and caregivers of people with mental illness is essential to high-quality mental health services. However, literature suggests that there is a lack of engagement between family members and mental health nurses (MHNs). Lack of knowledge among MHNs is often cited as one of the main reasons for this lack of engagement. The aim of this review was to explore the knowledge, skills and attitudes that are required by MHNs to enable to them to work more effectively with families affected by mental illness. A literature based critical review was used to access and review 35 papers in order to extract concepts that could inform the design of eLearning materials to assist MHNs advance their knowledge in this area. Two overarching themes were identified; 'Mental health problems and the family' and 'Working with the family'. From these themes, the knowledge, skills and attitudes required to work more effectively with families are described. The findings from this review provide a descriptive account of the knowledge skills and attitudes that are required for effective family work. In addition, the review provides an empirical foundation for education programmes in the area. Highlights • Mental health nurses often lack the knowledge and skills to support families. • Well-designed education programmes increase knowledge, reduce stress and burden. • Education programmes need to prepare mental health nurses more effectively with families.

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Family caregivers: Important but often poorly understood

An editorial is presented on the increase importance of family caregivers to improve healthcare outcomes. It highlights the health benefits of caregiving to reduce physical, emotional and financial strains particularly for individuals with chronic illness. It also cites the influence of several factors to the increase caregiver engagement of the nurses including health policy, practice and nursing education.

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Evaluation of a co-delivered training package for community mental health professionals on service user- and carer-involved care planning

Background There is limited evidence for the acceptability of training for mental health professionals on service user- and carer-involved care planning. Aim To investigate the acceptability of a co-delivered, two-day training intervention on service user- and carer-involved care planning. Methods Community mental health professionals were invited to complete the Training Acceptability Rating Scale post-training. Responses to the quantitative items were summarized using descriptive statistics (Miles, ), and qualitative responses were coded using content analysis (Weber, ). Results Of 350 trainees, 310 completed the questionnaire. The trainees rated the training favourably (median overall TARS scores = 56/63; median 'acceptability' score = 34/36; median 'perceived impact' score = 22/27). There were six qualitative themes: the value of the co-production model; time to reflect on practice; delivery preferences; comprehensiveness of content; need to consider organizational context; and emotional response. Discussion The training was found to be acceptable and comprehensive with participants valuing the co-production model. Individual differences were apparent in terms of delivery preferences and emotional reactions. There may be a need to further address the organizational context of care planning in future training. Implications for practice Mental health nurses should use co-production models of continuing professional development training that involve service users and carers as co-facilitators.

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Informal caregivers' views on the division of responsibilities between themselves and professionals: A scoping review

This scoping review focuses on the views of informal caregivers regarding the division of care responsibilities between citizens, governments and professionals and the question of to what extent professionals take these views into account during collaboration with them. In Europe, the normative discourse on informal care has changed. Retreating governments and decreasing residential care increase the need to enhance the collaboration between informal caregivers and professionals. Professionals are assumed to adequately address the needs and wishes of informal caregivers, but little is known about informal caregivers' views on the division of care responsibilities. We performed a scoping review and searched for relevant studies published between 2000 and September 1, 2016 in seven databases. Thirteen papers were included, all published in Western countries. Most included papers described research with a qualitative research design. Based on the opinion of informal caregivers, we conclude that professionals do not seem to explicitly take into account the views of informal caregivers about the division of responsibilities during their collaboration with them. Roles of the informal caregivers and professionals are not always discussed and the division of responsibilities sometimes seems unclear. Acknowledging the role and expertise of informal caregivers seems to facilitate good collaboration, as well as attitudes such as professionals being open and honest, proactive and compassionate. Inflexible structures and services hinder good collaboration. Asking informal caregivers what their opinion is about the division of responsibilities could improve clarity about the care that is given by both informal caregivers and professionals and could improve their collaboration. Educational programs in social work, health and allied health professions should put more emphasis on this specific characteristic of collaboration.

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Oncology Nurses' Knowledge, Confidence, and Practice in Addressing Caregiver Strain and Burden

Objectives: To describe nurses' practices, confidence, and knowledge of evidence-based interventions for cancer caregiver strain and burden and to identify factors that contribute to these aspects. ; Sample & Setting: 2,055 Oncology Nursing Society members completed an emailed survey.; Methods & Variables: Pooled analysis of survey results. Variables included the baseline nursing assessment, intervention, confidence, knowledge, strategies used, and barriers encountered. ; Results: Nurses tend to overestimate the strength of evidence for interventions not shown to be effective and have moderate confidence in assessing and intervening with caregivers. Having been an informal caregiver and having received care from an informal caregiver were associated with higher reported practice and confidence. Major strategies used were referral to social workers and others. Barriers reported were financial, caregiver emotional responses, and distance. ; Implications For Nursing: An opportunity exists to increase nurses' knowledge and confidence in assessment and intervention with caregivers. Greater use of technology may help nurses overcome some barriers to working with caregivers. Findings can be used to plan continuing education, develop clinical processes, and identify resources nurses need to address strain and burden among informal caregivers.

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Exploring the collaboration between formal and informal care from the professional perspective-A thematic synthesis

In Dutch policy and at the societal level, informal caregivers are ideally seen as essential team members when creating, together with professionals, co-ordinated support plans for the persons for whom they care. However, collaboration between professionals and informal caregivers is not always effective. This can be explained by the observation that caregivers and professionals have diverse backgrounds and frames of reference regarding providing care. This thematic synthesis sought to examine and understand how professionals experience collaboration with informal caregivers to strengthen the care triad. PubMed, Medline, PsycINFO, Embase, Cochrane/Central and CINAHL were searched systematically until May 2015, using specific key words and inclusion criteria. Twenty-two articles were used for thematic synthesis. Seven themes revealed different reflections by professionals illustrating the complex, multi-faceted and dynamic interface of professionals and informal care. Working in collaboration with informal caregivers requires professionals to adopt a different way of functioning. Specific attention should be paid to the informal caregiver, where the focus now is mainly on the client for whom they care. This is difficult to attain due to different restrictions experienced by professionals on policy and individual levels. Specific guidelines and training for the professionals are necessary in the light of the current policy changes in the Netherlands, where an increased emphasis is placed on informal care structures.

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Do nurses and other health professionals’ in elderly care have education in family nursing?

Background: Family caregivers are an important resource for providing care to elderly living at home. How nurses and other health professionals interact with family caregivers can have both a positive and a negative impact on the family caregivers’ situation. We lack knowledge of Norwegian nurses’ and other health professionals’ participation in educational programmes about family caregivers’ needs and situations. Aim: The purpose of this study was to investigate whether nurses and other health professionals working in home‐care nursing had participated in educational programmes about family caregivers. Additionally, the study aimed to determine whether participation in educational programmes was associated with awareness of family caregivers’ contributions to elder care. Methods: This is a quantitative study, and it was conducted as a cross‐sectional study. The participants were required to be educated as nurses, nursing assistants or other health professionals with relevant health education and to be working with the elderly in home‐care nursing settings. Descriptive statistics and trivariate table analysis using the Pearson Chi‐square t‐test were conducted using Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS). Result: A total of 152 nurses and health professionals in home‐care nursing in 23 municipalities have participated (in one county in Norway). The results showed that only half of the respondents had participated in educational programmes about family caregivers’ needs and situations. The study did not provide a clear answer regarding the association between participation in educational programmes and awareness of family caregivers’ contributions. Conclusions: The results indicate that nurses and other health professionals, to a small extent, have participated in educational programmes about family caregivers. Our findings indicate that participation in educational programmes may be particularly important for health professionals in leadership positions and for health professionals with vocational training.

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Australian family carer responses when a loved one receives a diagnosis of Motor Neurone Disease—“Our life has changed forever”

While the experiences of family members supporting a person with a terminal illness are well documented, less is known about the needs of carers of people with neurological diseases, in particular, Motor Neurone Disease (MND). This paper describes the qualitative data from a large Australian survey of family carers of people with MND, to ascertain their experiences of receiving the diagnosis. The aim of the study was to describe the experiences of family carers of people with MND in receiving the diagnosis in order to inform and improve ways in which the diagnosis is communicated. Anonymous postal surveys were sent to people with MND in Australia and their family carers respectively. The perceived ability/skills of neurologists was assessed using a five‐point scale from excellent to poor. Attributes of communication of bad news was measured by the SPIKES protocol. Each survey question invited further written responses. Eight hundred and sixty‐four questionnaires were posted to people with MND and their family carers, with assistance from MND associations. One hundred and ninety‐six family carers submitted responses, of which 171 (88%) were patient‐carer dyads. Analyses were conducted on 190 family carers. Five themes emerged from reading and re‐reading written responses: frustrations with the diagnosis; giving information; family carer observations of the neurologist; the setting; and what would have made the diagnosis easier? The delivery of the diagnosis is a pivotal event in the MND trajectory. Satisfaction for patients and their family carers is related to the neurologists showing empathy and responding appropriately to their emotions, exhibiting knowledge and providing longer consultations. Neurologists may benefit from education and training in communication skills to adequately respond to patients’ and families’ emotions and development of best practice protocols. 

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Working with Families Affected by Mental Distress: Stakeholders' Perceptions of Mental Health Nurses Educational Needs

Family and informal caregivers provide a substantial amount of care and support to people who experience mental health problems. The aim of this study was to explore mental health nurses', students' and service users' perceptions of the knowledge, skills and attitudes that are required by mental health nurses to work with families and carers using a qualitative methodology. Three themes emerged from the data: Knowledge of the family and how mental distress affects the family; working with the family – support and education; and valuing the role of the family. The three themes demonstrate the complexity of preparing mental health nurses to work with families and carers, and the article offers recommendations about how this might be achieved. 

Re-visioning social work education: an independent review

Norman Lamb, Minister of State for Care and Support at the Department of Health invited the Chair of Skills for Care to undertake this Independent Review, in the context of the changes to social work practice brought about by the Social Work Task Force and Social Work Reform Board, and their own recommendations for social work education. The review is based on evidence invited from as wide a field as possible, from the UK and internationally, of all those who have a stake in the education of social workers, including service users and carers, employers, educationalists, social work practitioners, students and others. Professor David Croisdale-Appleby considers whether social work education is ideally structured to best serve the changing nature of the profession. 

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An exploration of international innovation in service user involvement across three countries

This film is from a project which examines social work from the perspective of service users and carers across three countries, Northern Ireland, Slovenia and Spain. Social work students from Queen’s University, Belfast, Northern Ireland, the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia and the University of Alicante, Spain interviewed service users and carers on film using seven questions developed to examine key areas of social work skills, knowledge and values. The service users and carers were all already working across the three universities and had prior experience of involvement in social work education. Each country developed its own film and the three films were then edited together to produce a film where all of the service users and carers can be seen responding to the seven questions. The authors believe the films will help student social workers to understand social work knowledge, skills and values in an international context.

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The recognition of and response to dementia in the community: lessons for professional development

Adult learning approaches require professionals to identify their learning needs. Learning about dementia syndromes is a complex task because of the insidious onset and variable course of the disease processes, the inexorability of cognitive and functional loss, and the emotional impact of neurodegenerative disorders on those experiencing them and on their family and professional carers. This report describes the ways in which learning tasks were understood and articulated by 774 community-based professionals from different disciplines, working in nominal groups in 24 settings across the United Kingdom, and explores how these groups set about identifying their learning needs. These groups focused on being insufficiently skilled to carry out educational functions, on solving problems of limited resources and inflexible systems, and on carers rather than on people with dementia. The groups’ solution hinged on multidisciplinary learning being the best route to achieving system change, but such an approach to learning was dealt with uncritically. Three themes received scant attention: the impact of practitioners’ own emotional responses to dementia on their clinical or practical skills; the educational potential of voluntary organizations; and the value of learning from the person with dementia, as much as from their carers. Professional development should therefore widen the debate about recognition of dementia to improvement of timely responses. It should concentrate on developing capacities not only around diagnosis, but also around communication and support.

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Social work education case study: Kingston University and St George's University London

Service users, carers and academics describe participation in the social work degree at Kingston University and St George's University London. It looks at the different ways that users and carers are involved in the course, including teaching, role-playing activities, marking students' work and the selection process for students applying to on the course. It also looks at the importance of the university providing appropriate training and support, the benefits students get from contact with users and carers and what users and carers gain from the experience. The film will be of interest to social worker educators, students on social work courses, people working more broadly in co-production/participation and service users and carers.

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The fount of all knowledge: training required to involve service users and carers in health and social care education and training

A modified Delphi study was carried out in order to obtain consensus regarding the content of a university training course to involve service users and carers at all stages of the health and social care educational process within a higher education environment. Telephone interviews were carried out with service users and carers, educationalists and leaders in the field of service user and carer involvement to generate curriculum ideas. A questionnaire was developed from their responses and sent to a purposive sample of 65 people (24 service users and carers, 28 health and social care educationalists and 13 leaders in the field of service user and carer involvement). Fifty‐five statements were generated with consensus being reached on 46 (84%) statements. Mismatches between service users and carers, educationalists and leaders in the field were explored. Key themes to be included in the curriculum were identified. This paper demonstrates that the best training is not imposed upon service users and carers by academics or others who think they know best; rather, that service users and carers themselves can play a leading role in identifying their training needs and devising strategies to ensure these needs are effectively met.

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User involvement in social work education: Macedonian perspective

Involving service users and carers in the education and training of social workers is higher on the agenda in developed countries than ever before. Higher education institutions that run these programmes are required to involve service users and carers at all levels of the design and delivery of the programmes. The experiences of user involvement in social work education in the countries of transition, such as Macedonia, are however lacking. This article discusses the modalities, principles and benefits of user involvement in social work education based on the Anglo-Saxon experiences and make a reference to their applicability within the Macedonian context where relevant. The author focuses initially on the modalities in which user involvement may take place: teaching and learning, practice assignments, curricula development, student’s assessments, planning management and evaluation of courses etc. Further, it briefly explores core principles, as well as issues related to participation planning and payment.

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User and carer involvement in social work education - a university case study: manipulation or citizen control?

This paper provides an account of one university's experience of involving service users and carers in the delivery of the new undergraduate and postgraduate social work degrees. It poses the question as to whether user and carer involvement in social work education can be viewed as a means of promoting citizen participation or whether it is a case of manipulating relatively powerless groups. In addressing this question, service users and carers and social work tutors describe, from their own distinct perspectives, the processes in which they were both involved.

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The caring experience: learning about community care through spending 24 hours with people who use services and family carers

This paper describes a teaching and learning initiative developed in a UK social work programme that has involved carers, service users, academic social work staff and practitioners. Post‐graduate student social workers spend 24 hours in agreed periods with family carers or people who use social work services. The paper explains the origins of this initiative, rooted in a model of service user and carer involvement established over a number of years within the social work programme at the University of Dundee, Scotland. The development of this teaching and learning method is outlined and an account is given by a family carer describing their experience of being involved in the programme. Findings from the evaluation of this first year of operation are reported.

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Effective engagement in social work education

This good practice guide is based on research conducted in 2008, and commissioned to explore the extent of service user and carer involvement in the Higher and Further Education sectors in west and southeast Scotland. Through this guide it is hoped that good practice can be shared and lessons learned. This guide is a tool to support the effective engagement of people who use services and carers in social work education. It is evidence-based and applicable to educators working in the social care field and beyond including health, early years and childcare. The purpose of the guide is to progress the involvement of people who use services and carers in all aspects of social work education by demonstrating the range of opportunities for involvement and explaining the key elements of good practice.

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Social work education case study: Bucks New University

Service users, carers and academics describe participation in the social work degree at Bucks New University. It looks at the different ways that users and carers are involved in the course, the importance of the university providing appropriate training and support, the benefits students get from contact with users and carers and what users and carers gain from the experience. The video will be of interest to social worker educators, students on social work courses, people working more broadly in co-production/participation and service users and carers.

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Issues of power in service user and carer involvement: partnership, processes and outcomes

Our experience of partnership working on a Scottish project on service user and carer involvement in social work education has been a deeply politicising one. First-hand encounters with power enacted at various sites of service user and carer involvement across national, institutional and local university levels have demonstrated to us that 'partnership working that pushes at the orthodox structures of power is difficult' (Barnes et al., 2006, p. 434). In this chapter we provide a commentary on service user and carer involvement in social services work, in social work education in particular, with a focus on the enactment of power. We explore the nature of partnership arrangements with service users and carers; examine the processes through which partnerships are navigated; and review what is known about the outcomes of such partnerships on social work knowledge and education, and ultimately on social work practice itself.

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Social work education and mental health in a changing world

This paper addresses a number of issues concerning the future prospects for social work and mental health in England and the implications of these for social work education. In particular the significance of interprofessional practice and education will be examined and these will be located within the wider context of the social work contribution to mental health services. The experience of social work in promoting the interests and involvement of service users and carers and of working within a holistic model will also be recognised. The particular value of the social work contribution to mental health in both mental health and non-mental health settings is emphasised and attention is paid to how this could be strengthened and extended in the light of the opportunities for positive and creative developments offered by the introduction of the new 3-year degree. These will include the development of shared learning with other professional groups and the need to prepare social work students for practice within a rapidly changing world.

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Building capacity for service user and carer involvement in social work education

Requirements set out for the social work degree and post‐qualifying framework specify the involvement of service users and carers on a number of levels. Research indicates that service user and carer involvement can benefit students, professionals and service users and carers themselves. To keep up with demands placed on service users and carers by higher education institutions and other social work bodies, the issue of capacity needs to be addressed. This paper describes a programme (Getting Involved) designed by Skills for Care to build capacity to participate among service users and carers new to social work education. It describes the experience of piloting the programme in Dorset by a team at Bournemouth University consisting of service users and carers and staff from the Centre for Post‐Qualifying Social Work. Getting Involved is a welcome development and the outcomes of the pilot have been extremely positive for all involved. The process of undertaking and evaluating the pilot raised issues concerning setting up programmes, project management, service users and carers as co‐researchers and sustainability. These are discussed in terms of our experience and how they link with the literature. Lessons learnt and implications for similar work in the future are highlighted.

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Evaluating the effectiveness of service user and carer involvement in post qualifying mental health social work education in Scotland : challenges and opportunities

Purpose – The purpose of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness of user and carer involvement in a new one‐year postgraduate certificate course for Mental Health Officers (MHOs) in Scotland, covering the first year of its delivery (2009‐2010).

Design/methodology/approach – This was explored in two ways: first, by assessing the level of user and carer involvement against a modified framework; and second, by measuring students' confidence in working with people with mental health issues over the duration of the course, and through interviews with students and service users and documentary analysis.

Findings – The findings indicate user and carer “influence” and “partnership” over the design and delivery of the learning, teaching and assessment strategy, but no degree of “control” over any aspect of the course. Teaching provided by users and carers was associated with marked improvement in students' confidence in engaging with and upholding the rights of users and carers in the context of the MHO role. Students reported increased awareness of the lived reality of compulsory treatment. Users reported benefits from feeling they had helped facilitate future good practice.

Research limitations/implications – The research design does not allow for causal links to be made between increases in student confidence and user and carer involvement.

Practical implications – The study identified substantial barriers to effective user and carer involvement but confirmed its potential as a positive change agent for post‐qualifying social work education.

Originality/value – This study contributes to the evidence base by demonstrating the value of service user and carer involvement in post qualifying social work education.

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Animating experience

The imperative for participation in social work education has led to consideration of the ways in which service users’ and carers’ voices can best be heard by students. At Glyndŵr University, this debate has resulted in the development of a service user and carer-led module which will introduce students to a variety of creative approaches as a way of telling narratives of experience. In preparation for the module, a pilot project was run to assess the particular benefits of using animation for this purpose. This reflective case study describes the experiences of a social work student who worked with a carer to make a short animated film. It articulates the ways in which theoretical teaching was brought to life by working intensively. It demonstrates that creative approaches can offer a constructive means of addressing the need to cater for diverse learning styles. In addition, it adds weight to the argument that service users’ and carers’ experiential knowledge should be taken as seriously as other forms of knowledge.

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Developing carers' contributions to social work training

Including informal carers within social work training programmes is generally regarded positively. Such approval is aligned with the view that users of welfare services possess valuable, even unique perspectives relevant to professional education and training. This article identifies three models incorporating the experience of carers into social work training and draws attention to aspects of good practice. It questions whether the extension of training in this area adequately addresses the problematic positions of carers' diverse circumstances since they do not fit into simple analyses of social constructionism or oppression.

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Working with carers in educational settings: developing innovations in practice

Purpose – It is generally agreed that carers in mental health care play a vital role in helping people to maintain their place in the community and reducing the time clients spend in hospital or residential settings. The purpose of this paper is to develop a conceptual approach to involving carers in higher education by acknowledging their contribution to improving practice and identify the impact upon student learning in mental health and social care professions. 

Design/methodology/approach – A brief review of the policy and literature on involving carers in mental health services and education explored the historical and current influences upon practice. This was then applied to the experience of the authors when teaching nursing and social work students in a higher educational setting and evaluated as developing outcomes in carer involvement practice.

Findings – Relationships between carers and students in health and social care may be created in higher education settings that can develop supportive, informative and recovery‐focused care in practice. Creating such relationships in the higher educational setting helps students to prepare for developing relationships with carers in practice. 

Originality/value – Involving carers in education may improve outcomes in recovery for the client and carer experience and the development of professional and self awareness skills in students. Developing involvement practices in higher education begins the process early in the experience of health and social care students, providing a safe environment in which to master such skills.

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Service user and carer involvement in role-plays to assess readiness for practice

Service user and carer involvement in social work education is now well established since its inception as a compulsory requirement in the social work curriculum in the United Kingdom in 2003. Since then, there have been many examples of how such involvement has been approached by education providers. Nevertheless, one of the key obstacles and challenges in this field continues to centre on the need to achieve non-tokenistic user involvement which cements the engagement of service users and carers at the heart of social work education. This paper describes one such initiative where service user and carer colleagues in a university in Northern Ireland have been actively involved in the assessment of first year social work students' preparation for their first period of practice learning. The paper presents the background to this initiative explaining how the project unfolded; the detailed preparations that were involved and the evidence gathered from evaluations undertaken with the students, service users and carers, and academic colleagues who were all involved. We believe that the findings from this project can contribute to the advancement of existing knowledge in the field in exploring and recommending creative methodologies for user involvement in social work education.

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Caring at a distance: learning and practice issues

Emphasis on support for informal carers focuses on those who provide, in the words of the Carers (Recognition and Services) Act 1995, 'substantial' and 'regular' care. Following research and policy, professional education has also developed interest in those who live with the people they support, such as co-resident spouses and children of all ages. This article considers those who probably do not define themselves as carers and are usually referred to as 'relatives' or 'family', living at a distance from an older relative. It explores their possible need for support as well as the form and level of their involvement in relation to care managed services. It describes key areas or events to draw out practice issues and concludes with a discussion of the extent to which care management can work with such relatives. In many ways caring at a distance forces an examination of what is meant by 'care' and who can legitimately claim this as an emotion or status. The rationale for such interest is therefore three-fold. If social workers and social work educators restrict the meaning and their definitions of carers to those who provide 'hands on' services, as part of the care package, they risk alienating relatives from the learning experience of students. In doing so they may neglect these highly valued supports of older people and may leave relatives distressed and disempowered by anxiety over their contract with social work agencies.

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Social work education case study: Anglia Ruskin University

Service users, carers and academics describe participation in the social work degree at Anglia Ruskin University. It looks at the different ways that users and carers are involved in the course, the importance of the university providing appropriate training and support, the benefits students get from contact with users and carers and what users and carers gain from the experience. The film will be of interest to social work educators, social work students, service users and carers.

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Social work education case study: Leeds University

Service users, carers and academics describe participation in the social work degree at Leeds University. It looks at the different ways that users and carers are involved in the course, including teaching, role-playing activities, marking students' work and the selection process for students applying to on the course. It also looks at the importance of the university providing appropriate training and support, the benefits students get from contact with users and carers and what users and carers gain from the experience. The film will be of interest to social worker educators, students on social work courses, people working more broadly in co-production/participation and service users and carers.

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Social work education participation: access, payment and support

This video looks at the practical arrangements that need to be made around accessibility, support and payments to ensure that users and carers can participate in social work education and be rewarded for their input. The film will be useful for social work students, lecturers, tutors, social worker educators, people working more broadly in co-production/participation and service users and carers.

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What do we know about partnership with service users and carers in social work education and how robust is the evidence base?

Partnership work with service users and carers in social work education is a policy requirement, and it is also central to the anti-oppressive and rights-based values of social work. This paper reports research findings which are drawn from an educational context, but are also relevant to the wider field of health and social care. The research team undertook a systematic knowledge review using the Evidence for Policy and Practice Information and Coordinating Centre system, which had been used in health and education, but which had not previously been used in social care and social work. This involved an extensive search of electronic databases and rigorous screening to identify studies which had sufficient relevance to be subjected to detailed analysis. The research team also undertook a practice survey of the teaching, learning and assessment of partnership in prequalifying programmes in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. This involved three stages: a document search; telephone interviews; and focus groups held with students, academic staff, and service users and carers. Throughout the research process, the interdisciplinary team was advised and supported by a stakeholder group which consisted of service users and carers, students, and employer representatives. In the second part of the paper, subsequent discussion explores key findings from the research, including the disputed nature of the concept of partnership, models of partnership work within social work education and the dearth of research on partnership outcomes. Five related questions are identified as a means of interrogating the robustness of the research process and findings. The paper concludes by arguing for work to be done to theorise partnership, and to develop effective strategies for improving the quality of partnership working in education, and health and social care practice.

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Emerging from out of the shadows? Service user and carer involvement in systematic reviews

The systematic review methodology literature refers to the importance of involving stakeholders, including service users and carers, in the research. However, compared with other aspects of the methodology, this aspect of conducting systematic reviews is underdeveloped and the practice of involvement appears highly variable. This article draws on the experience of working with service users and carers in one systematic review to review the barriers to participation and the components of effective involvement. It suggests that quality standards can be identified for service user and carer involvement in systematic reviews, which will benefit policy and practice development

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Reflections on student, service user and carer involvement in social work research

This article will reflect on the experience of undertaking a participatory action research influenced study within a module of a social work degree programme. In doing so it will touch on some of the literature associated with student, service user and carer involvement in qualifying programmes, and in particular on research and module design. It will outline the history of service user and carer involvement in respect of a specific module within a singular degree course. It will provide an overview and some findings of the study, which sought to evaluate the involvement of an inherent service user and carer group within that degree course. However, as service user and carer involvement within degree programmes has had significant attention within the wider literature, the current study seeks to present a reflexive commentary on student, service user and carer involvement in research modules and participatory action research. Whilst the research presented here should be regarded as an initial foray with acknowledged limitations, it equally highlights some perspectives that lead to an understanding of how greater levels of student, service user and carer involvement within social work research might be achieved, in particular in the context of social work qualifying programmes.

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Research into practice

Reports on a study which investigates how universities have engaged with carers and carer organisations in developing the new social work degree. The research was commissioned by the department of Health through Carers UK and City and Guilds Affinity.

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Social work education participation: user and carer participation in social work

This film details the requirements on universities teaching the social work degree to involve service user and carers in their courses. It also sets out the benefits that result from students working with service users and carers, with users and carers describing how this leads to improved practice and how students explaining the value of learning about the realities of people's lives. The film will be of interest to social worker educators, students on social work courses, people working more broadly in co-production/participation and service users and carers.

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Social work education participation: what's happening in four universities?

In this video representatives from four universities describe the ways in which service users and carers participate in social work degree courses. It looks at the benefits user and carer involvement brings to the courses and how they gain from the experience of participation. The film will be useful for  is relevant to social worker educators, social work students, people working more broadly in co-production/participation and service users and carers.

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The Meaningful Involvement of Service Users and Carers in Advanced-Level Post-Qualifying Social Work Education: A Qualitative Study

The Social Work Reform Board is undertaking an ambitious programme of reform in the UK. This includes enhancing the professional status of social work and reforming social work education. The nature and purpose of service user and carer involvement at all levels of social work education need to be considered alongside this. However, the nature of meaningful involvement of service users and carers in advanced post-qualifying education has not been clearly articulated. A qualitative study was conducted that involved twenty-nine stakeholders—service users, carers, social workers, lecturers and managers—to help understand what constitutes meaningful involvement at this level of education. We found four predominant models (consultation, partnership, political and user control) that have different implications for how service users and carers may be engaged in advanced post-qualifying social work education. Further research is required to understand the effect of these different models on outcomes for social workers and the service users and carers they work with.

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Working towards full participation: a report on how social work degree courses, which started in 2003, have begun to involve service users and carers in social work training

The introduction of the new social work degree, which had its first intake in September 2003, provided an important and exciting opportunity to make participation in social work education a reality by requiring that service users and carers be involved in all aspects of course design and delivery, including the selection and assessment of students. This is the annual quality- assurance report (AQAR) to be compiled by the General Social Care Council (GSCC). The report draws on the full range of quality-assurance  (QA) processes undertaken during the reporting year April 2004 to March 2005.

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Involving service users and carers in social work education

Context: In 2003 the Department of Health introduced a new qualification for social workers. Previously a diploma, for the first time the social work qualification became a three-year degree course, a move which reflected the difficulty and professionalism of the job. Also for the first time, universities and colleges offering the degree were required to involve service users and carers in the design and delivery of the programme.

Purpose: This guide focuses on how service users, carers and providers of social work education and training can work together on the social work degree. It covers the principles, practicalities and range of approaches to building and sustaining these partnerships.

Audience: The guide is for all those involved in the degree - from programme heads to administrators - but is especially aimed at those responsible for educating and training social workers.

The key messages of the guide apply also to developing service users’ and carers’ involvement in all types of training for social work and social care staff and in the design and delivery of services. 

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Social work education participation: hopes for the future

In this film academics, policy makers, service users and carers describe their hopes for the future development of user and carer participation in social work education in this film. This includes developing further ways for users and carers to participate in the degree and ensuring there is consistency in participation across all higher education institutions. The film will be of potential interest to social worker educators, students on social work courses, people working more broadly in co-production/participation and service users and carers.

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