A Mentor’s PATH: Evaluating how service users can be involved as mentors for social work students on observational practice placements

Jill MacSporran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This paper will explore the experience of service user involvement in social work education, examining the challenges of involving ‘seldom heard’ service user voices. Over a six month period, a group of four people with learning disabilities were supported and enabled to take on an assessment role as Mentors for four first year BA(Hons) Social Work students at the University of the West of Scotland. The article will focus on an evaluation of this pilot project and will outline the partnership work between the university and placement agency in planning, preparing, and supporting the mentors to carry out their role in supporting students on placement and assessing their communication skills, value base and readiness to practise. Central to the planning process was the use of PATH – a person centred planning tool. The evaluation will detail the crucial role played by the support staff in the placement agency, without whom this project would not have been possible.
The evaluation was carried out using a mixed methods approach and embraced the principles and values of participatory action research. The evaluation provides insight into the experiences of the mentors, the students and support staff, and demonstrates that with the right support in place, and with commitment to thorough planning and preparation, seldom heard service users can be meaningfully involved in social work education.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46-60
JournalSocial Work and Social Sciences Review
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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Mentors
Social Work
social work
Students
evaluation
planning
student
staff
Education
Learning Disorders
Health Services Research
Scotland
pilot project
Disabled Persons
communication skills
planning process
learning disability
action research
Values
education

Cite this

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abstract = "This paper will explore the experience of service user involvement in social work education, examining the challenges of involving ‘seldom heard’ service user voices. Over a six month period, a group of four people with learning disabilities were supported and enabled to take on an assessment role as Mentors for four first year BA(Hons) Social Work students at the University of the West of Scotland. The article will focus on an evaluation of this pilot project and will outline the partnership work between the university and placement agency in planning, preparing, and supporting the mentors to carry out their role in supporting students on placement and assessing their communication skills, value base and readiness to practise. Central to the planning process was the use of PATH – a person centred planning tool. The evaluation will detail the crucial role played by the support staff in the placement agency, without whom this project would not have been possible.The evaluation was carried out using a mixed methods approach and embraced the principles and values of participatory action research. The evaluation provides insight into the experiences of the mentors, the students and support staff, and demonstrates that with the right support in place, and with commitment to thorough planning and preparation, seldom heard service users can be meaningfully involved in social work education.",
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