Engaging experts by experience in programme development for post-graduate, pre-registration nurse education

Dr Charlotte Whiffin
University of Derby
Patient and Public Involvement


All professional bodies including the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) and the Health Care Professions Council (HCPC) now require evidence of involvement from service users and carers at all stages from programme and curriculum development, Learning, Teaching and Assessment as well as programme management. In recent years most programme providers have made some attempt to meet this requirement but there are criticisms that the involvement can be tokenistic and rarely practised in a meaningful way (Tait and Lester 2005). Although research by McLaughlin (2009) and Gutteridge and Dobbins (2010) suggests that there is a positive impact on the quality of the provision, the student experience and has a range of practical and ethical benefits for the service users and carers themselves when collaboration with service users and carers is fully collaborative and embedded into the programme in an informed manner (Bassett et al 2006; Khoo et al 2004).

The College of Health and Social care now has a well-established ‘Experts by Experience’ group – ExE’s. Membership includes service users and carers from across the full range of health and social care sectors. We want to make sure that engaging people; public, students and staff, is part of our culture and reflects the University of Derby’s values of widening participation. We want involvement to happen at every level of what we do across all levels, departments and Colleges.

What are the Aims?

To increase the involvement of experts by experience within educational curricula

To encourage expert by experience and public involvement that reflects the diverse nature of society and local health economies

To support experts by experience in their involvement with the College

To develop an equitable expert by experience friendly re-imbursement scheme within the existing financial framework of the College and wider university

To liaise with other Departments in the faculty and the wider university to further expert by experience and public involvement

To build on the established achievements expert by experience involvement in the field of healthcare, and translate the successes of the College of Health and Social care across the University.

To monitor and review the aims of the service user and carer involvement strategy

Who was/is involved?

Experts by experience

Academic staff

Clinical colleagues from adult and mental health acute and community healthcare providers

What has changed/will change?

Experts by experience will participate in all areas of pre-registration nurse education.  Involvement in this programme will vary depending on the activity which will range from equal partnership in operational group meetings to participation in student assessments.

What lessons have we learnt?

  1. Engaging with experts by experience can be facilitated through open dialogue and commitment to genuine partnership, inclusivity and equality
  2. A flexible strategy is essential that does not prescribe a one size fits all approach to PPI.  Instead learning can be enhanced through a range of appropriate PPI that at all times enhances student learning.  How PPI enhances student learning should be continually evaluated.
  3. We need to be cognisant of the support needs of experts by experience that may include physical, psychological, financial and emotional.

The success of the involvement of service users and carers into the healthcare programmes at the University of Derby must in part be attributed to the design of the programme and responsiveness and support from the programme team and management team but the real success of our collaborative work with our expert by experience partners has arisen from their enthusiasm, openness, honesty and genuine motivation to make our health and social care education more meaningful and for that we are deeply grateful to them.

Contact details

Dr Charlotte Whiffin Senior Lecturer in Nursing, College of Health and Social Care, University of Derby, Kedleston Road, DE22 1GB, Tel: 01332 593882

Email: c.whiffin@derby.ac.uk

Links to further information and resources

Basset, T, Campbell, P & Anderson, J 2006, 'Service user/survivor involvement in mental health education and training: overcoming the barriersSocial Work Education, vol 25, no. 4, pp. 393-402.,10.1080/02615470600593675

Gutteridge, R. and Dobbins, K. (2010) Nurse Education Today, Vol. 30 (6), pp. 509-14

Khoo, R., McVicar, A., Brandon, D., 2004. Service user involvement in postgraduate mental health education. Does it benefit practice? Journal of Mental Health 13, 481–492

McLaughlin H. (2009). Service User Research in Health and Social Care Research. London. Sage Publications.

Tait, L. & Lester, H. (2005) Encouraging user involvement in mental health services, Advances in Psychiatric Treatment, Vol.11 p.168-17