Ward, Lisa J. and Rhodes, Christine (2010) Embedding consumer culture in health and social care education - a university office's perspective. International Journal of Consumer Studies, 34 (5). pp. 596-602. ISSN 1470-6423

Health and social care services are changing – and this change is radical. Service user and
carer involvement has been a key aspect of health and social care policy for a number of
years. In terms of the National Health Service (NHS), this has been significantly strengthened
by the report ‘High Quality Care for All’. The NHS will no longer be a monolith
dictating what services it offers. It is beginning to take seriously the views of its consumers:
the patients, service users and carers. The NHS is starting to put the patient experience at
the centre of everything it does, and its regulators are asking for evidence of public and
patient involvement. This process may yet prove to be one of the NHS’ greatest challenges
as it transforms to prioritize the consumer viewpoint. Social care, though further down the
line in relation to involvement, is now responding to the relatively new personalization
This paper will consider what the university sector can do to embed the consumer and
service culture within the education of health and social care professionals. It looks at the
challenges of involvement and required culture change, highlighting the key points to
address in the early and middle stages of involvement from a university office’s perspective.
It includes examples of consumer involvement in teaching, assessment and the
selection of students and how their input is starting to make a difference.
Finally, the paper outlines what is needed in a development office to establish and
support effective service user and carer involvement on health and social care courses in
higher education. The article concludes by acknowledging that there is much more work
that needs to be done in this field to embed the work of a development office, but that early
steps have been promising.

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