The journey and the reflections
I was privileged to be invited to co-present with Liz Sear, Senior Lecturer, Foundation Degree in Health and Social Care, at the service user and carers forum on January 10th 2017 by Sara Simons, Senior Lecturer/Disability Co-ordinator Faculty of Health and Society.
Liz and I had previously developed an e-learning package following the story of ‘Fred’, a fictitious character. ‘Fred’ is a homeless man whose journey to hopeful recovery exposed service provider and healthcare involvement. This online case study supported students’ understanding of inter-professional and multi-agency working.
Satisfying the need to present complex information in a clear and understandable way to Health and Social Care students, we demonstrated how effective this online learning had been.
There is nothing better than a ‘real-life’ story for students to learn from, and with this in mind, we invited service users to get involved by sharing their story with us and give us their permission for their story to be told in online e-learning packages for students to access for their studies here at the University.
A service user put herself forward as a willing contributor and subsequent plans were put in place to audio record the service user telling her story. Liz and Anne worked together on storyboarding and building the two e-learning packages using Xerte software.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is the name for a group of lung conditions that cause breathing difficulties including chronic bronchitis, emphysema and chronic obstructive airways disease. People with COPD have trouble breathing in and out, due to long-term damage to the lungs, usually because of smoking. COPD (bronchitis and emphysema), affects an estimated 3 million people in the U.K. (NHS, 2015).
We were interested to learn about the physical and psychological implications upon an individual’s day to day life and levels of activity in living with a long term condition. As co-production is key to developing quality the Health and Social Care (Care Act, 2014), as supported by NUSU 4Pi National Standards, Nothing about Us without Us (2015), involving the service user in all aspects of the production was fundamental to the project.
Jenny was happy to be involved, and following a thorough briefing of what this would entail, Jenny used prepared guidelines of questions to structure her answer. Full written consent was provided by Jenny to record and use her story for student learning purposes. Using a structured interview format, audio recording took place and key props used by Jenny were photographed to support her narrative.
Once the recording was adapted into the story board format Sara acted as a critical friend to the layout, format and directed learning tasks. Once recommendations were adopted, Jenny was asked for her views and opinions and further editing took place. User testing was undertaken by a number of students who piloted the packages.
In terms of my experience of working on this project I feel that it has left me with an enormous sense of admiration for the service user Jenny in terms of the challenges that she has had to face and overcome in her life, I think that she is very courageous person. It has also been a timely reminder that alongside the theory about the health and social care topics that we teach our students there is always a person whose story is unique and which reminds us that people do not experience ill health in the same way. As practitioners we need reminding of this so that we can strive to see things through the eyes of another person while not making assumptions about who people are, what they need from us and the reasons why they may behave in the way that they do. I feel that to do this successfully we must be prepared to be humble, as practitioners we can never ‘know it all’ and service users will often present us with insights about their experiences that can challenge our beliefs and prompt us to reflect upon our practice on a much deeper level.
Upon reflection, this has been an effective learning opportunity for all the contributors and we look forward to developing further packages this year.
Special thanks go to Jenny, who commented upon the fact, that this had been a really positive and rewarding experience.
Anne Misselbrook, Liz Sear and Sara Simons
“I found this package very engaging and informative”.
“Found the package very interesting and emotional to find out how much Jenny had been through in her life”.
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