Meaningful Service User Involvement in Professional NHS Training Programmes

Service User involvement is valued in all NHS service provision and professional training of its practitioners (NHS England). Here in Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust, we provide professional training in the form of a Postgraduate Certificate in Low Intensity Psychological Interventions (PGCertLIPI). This is the professional training route for Psychological Wellbeing Practitioners (PWP) who are the backbone of primary care Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services. Based on this we believe it is important to include the views and input of service users from the very beginning of each professional journey.

With this in mind the PGCertLIPI team have introduced the role of ‘Programme Advisor’. Programme Advisors are current or former service users of IAPT PWP services. Their experience provides invaluable support to the PGCertLIPI programme and makes sure the needs of service users are held in mind from initial induction to the programme right through to the final award ceremony. So far the PGCertLIPI Programme Advisors have made contributions to the teaching and role play activities of three cohorts of trainees; drawing upon their personal experiences and their use of IAPT services they have been able to offer really useful insights and feedback to complement teaching delivery and enhance the learning experience of our trainees. 

 This article was prepared in consultation with Adrian and Sven (standing in the pictures). Sven thought that the programme was making good progress in terms of meaningful involvement and that it was positive to be substantially involved in the delivery of a training course as it creates an ethos of co-production. Adrian felt that this ‘breaking down barriers between service users and professionals was a meaningful step towards trainees development of clinically relevant communication skills’. Furthermore, in line with our hopes for the role, it was acknowledged that the ability to share experiences as a service user with trainees helped to emphasise the importance of person-centred care and tailoring treatment to the individual. 



We are also grateful to our service users who actually coined the title ‘Programme Advisor’, instead of ‘Experts by Experience’

(which was our initial intention) as this better represents what they do. In addition rather than providing ad hoc input during teaching our Programme Advisors now have teaching materials in advance of teaching so that they are able to offer greater depth of reflection and provide a detailed brief for tutors in advance of teaching. Joining up academic input and lived experience in this way enhances teaching delivery and ultimately the learning experience of our trainees.

Moving forward, the PGCertLIPI team intend to formally evaluate the introduction of the role and understand how it can be further developed for the benefit of all stakeholders. We very much hope that this will be the start of really meaningful service user involvement with the capacity to support our Programme Advisors personal recovery journey and also facilitate the development of our trainees clinical competence. 

For further information please contact [email protected]

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