Rhodes, Christine A, Ward, Lisa J., Lyons, Steve, Symons, Jools, Plews, Caroline, Priestley, Jane, Sherwin, Sue, Young, Mike, Boaz, Mandy and McNicholl, Larry (2010) The Service User and Carer Working Group's Journey Through the ALPS Programme. In: Assessment and Learning in Practice Settings - Work Based Learning and Assessment for the Next Decade, March 2010, Weetwood Hall, Leeds, UK. (Unpublished)

The ALPS operational plan includes a specific aim related to service user and carer involvement: To enhance the role of service users and carers in assessment and learning in practice settings. This led to the advent of the Service User & Carer Working Group. This workshop will explain more about the work of this group. This will be supported by a case study from an ALPS funded project piloting an innovative assessment process involving service users and students in mental health nursing.
The group were given responsibilty for taking forward this aim either as a group, in liaison with other ALPS groups, or through developing, influencing, advising and /or overseeing activity at each partner site. Membership includes representatives from all five partner institutions and two service users.
As the programme nears completion the group has agreed areas where ALPS has made an impact in terms of service user and carer involvement. These are:
• ALPS has provided a structure through which local universities could further sustain their involvement ‘community of practice’ and so is contributing to an overall cultural shift and institutional leveling in terms of involvement practice
• ALPS has funded valuable research into involvement in research and what matters to service users and carers when it comes to shared care and decision making
• A shared policy on payment of service users across institutions for ALPS work has been an unprecedented development
• ALPS has funded the development of an online involvement good practice resource
• Seeking service users and carer feedback has been more clearly legitimized through the assessment tool and so should have some sustainability as a practice
The objectives of this workshop will be:
To share some of the successes, challenges and lessons learnt by the service user and carer working group about the preparedness (or not) of the overall health and social care economy for involvement.
To demonstrate the groups agreed areas where ALPS has made an impact in terms of involvement as above.
To highlight the effective collaboration of the group that is seen as one of it's key strengths.

Case Study
The case study project is in the field of mental health, proposong new ways of using the ALPS suite. This will include a group of service users working closely with an academic to develop realistic case based scenarios for student assessment and feedback. Planning will be comprehensive and include design of learning materials, understanding the feedback process, dealing with sensitive issues, planning and preparing role-plays, ethical issues, group and student logistics and student learning outcomes.
Each student will then undertake a simulated assessment with a service user. The purpose of this assessment is to develop and improve the student’s communication skills, when working with service users and carers. The assessment will use the ALPS suite. Each assessment will be broken down into three 15 minute phases. Assessments are planned to take 15 minutes each, with each assessment observed by an academic and a student peer. In the next 15 minutes the student will reflect and write up their individual reflection. The three observers will discuss and prepare for feedback. In the final 15 minutes of the session the student will receive feedback from the service user, student peer and academic. Feedback will be provided to the student in a timely manner that is individual, tailored, improvement focused. All feedback will be recorded using a PC or existing devices.
Following this simulation, students will take the communication ALPS Assessment tool with them into their next placement, thereby embedding into their practice portfolio. Outcomes from this will post-date the embedding project, but will contribute to the overall ALPS programme.

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