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.