Service user co-facilitation

University of Nottingham
Patient and Public Involvement


The project planned, introduced, evaluated and consequently embedded a teaching experience where service users worked alongside academic staff to co-facilitate workshops with undergraduate nursing students on the topic of service user involvement in healthcare. This co-facilitation approach was introduced concurrently across 14 seminar groups spanning all fields of nursing practice (Adult, Child, Learning Disability and Mental Health) for 300 students in Year 1 of their undergraduate course.  Service users also participated in the design of the session learning outcomes, teaching materials and co-delivered a lecture to all students which accompanies the seminars.

Adequate support and training to enable participation is essential (Bassett et al 2006, Mackay and Millar 2012).  The training workshop for service users is co-delivered by a service user and academic.  A follow up feedback meeting provides service users with support and the opportunity to contribute to the development of the session for the following year.

What are the Aims?

The role of both service user and academic in these sessions is to facilitate learning in line with a student centred approach to education. The strategy provided an important structure for service users to participate in classroom delivery as partners in the role of ‘teacher’ and move away from purely sharing testimonies.  Such an approach shifts power relationships, creating the opportunity for open and honest discussion (Rush 2008, Kemp 2010).  The seminars are located in a “Person Centred Nursing Care” module and the participation of service users enables these values to be role modelled in the teaching experience.

Who was/is involved?

The development was co-ordinated by Roni Anthony, Joan Cook, Anne Felton at the University of Nottingham. However over 16 academic staff and 14 service users contribute to the running of the educational experience.

What has changed/will change?

Analysis of responses to qualitative evaluations completed by students (N =198 for Year quotes are extracted from) who participated suggested 4 common themes; Valued learning strategy, Theory to Practice, Communication and Values. 

Valued Learning Strategy:  The session was described as enjoyable and engaging by students

Theory to Practice:  Service users contribution as co-facilitators was recognised by students as important for them to be able to apply the concepts and models of involvement to nursing practice.   How important it is for service users to feel in control of their own care and make choices for themselves.”  (Student Nurse, Adult)    Bringing theoretical knowledge into practice” (Student Nurse, Mental Health)

Communication: Communication was consistently recognised as essential for collaborative practice and the involvement of service users was described as helping the students become more aware of different strategies for communication.    “I have learnt how vital communication, especially non-verbal can be” (Student Nurse, Child)   “I have learnt how important it is to the listen to the patients  and families opinions in order to provide the best care for the patient and the most appropriate care to suit them” (Student Nurse, Adult)

Values:  The values of person centred care were clearly reflected in the student feedback It’s about the person not the illness” (Student Nurse, Mental Health)

What lessons have we learnt?

The co-facilitation sessions form part of a much wider strategy promoting the involvement of service users across education at the school.  The participation of service users in the development of the curriculum in which this is placed ensured that they were in a strong position to have some influence on content and delivery.  The structure of the course which includes parallel seminars facilitated in smaller groups posed a logistical challenge for the organisation of co-facilitation as this needed to run across 14 groups in a short period of time.  All lecturers teaching this section of the course took part, whether or not they had previously championed involvement, and the project leads made provision for supporting academics new to working alongside service users in education.

Contact details

Joan Cook

Anne Felton