SCIE press release

Social work education - putting service users and carers at its heart

07 November 2012

No amount of academic learning can give you the same degree of understanding and insight when you've been there yourself. This is what we bring; it's like gold dust, to be honest.

Mike Bush, "service user educator", Leeds University

Today, eight new Social Care TV films are launched. All social work degree courses now require the active participation of people who use services, and carers. The films show how user and carer involvement is transforming social work education. This has the power to create a new generation of social workers whose practice is routed in the "lived experience" of people.

The films will be useful for social work lecturers and students, service users and carers. They will also be of interest to social workers and newly-qualified social workers, along with managers and supervisors.

The films, made in conjunction with the Social Work Education Participation charity, highlight key themes, including:

SCIE's Workforce Director, Stephen Goulder, says:

These films are invaluable to a range of audiences, because involving users and carers isn't just an 'add-on'; it's a 'must do'. The real-life stories and useful tips on how to improve participation, all brought to life in the films, help students and lecturers to understand how they can improve practice, by involving users and carers. The films can also help users and carers to understand how they can participate in courses in the most useful way, so that social workers have great insight and start their careers with 'participation' uppermost in their minds. The films are a great example of co-production in action.

Case study: Anglia Ruskin University

In one of the eight films, "user educators" and "carer educators" are shown in training sessions with social workers. They talk about how it makes them feel good to be "useful and not on the scrapheap". They talk about how participation gives them dignity and respect; they talk about how they feel supported by the university; and how they are contributing to social work learning. Students and lecturers talk about the value that these educators bring to their learning, from the very beginning of their course. They talk about how they see the educators as people who has had real life experiences, and who give them vital perspectives on social work.

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Media contact

Steve Palmer | Press and Public Affairs Manager | Tel: 020 7766 7419 | Mob: 07739 458 192 | Email: media@scie.org.uk