We are not prescriptive about who service users and carers are. We need to be satisfied that education providers have considered and can justify the service user and carer groups they have chosen as the most appropriate and relevant to the programme.
We use the term ‘service user’ as a broad phrase to refer to those who use or are affected by the services of professionals registered with the HCPC. We use the term ‘carer’ as a broad phrase to refer to someone who has, or who currently, looks after or provides support to a family member, partner or friend.
In the standard, ‘service users and carers’ is an umbrella term. We do not expect to always see separate ‘service user’ and ‘carer’ involvement in programmes.
Implementation of the new standard
The standard applies to programmes from all 16 professions seeking approval from September 2014, including transitionally approved social work and approved mental health professional programmes. It applies to all existing HCPC approved programmes, including prescribing programmes, from September 2015. We will assess whether approved programmes meet the standard via our annual monitoring process.
Incorporation of the new standard in the approval process
A meeting with service users and carers is mandatory for all approval visits. This meeting is an opportunity for service users and carers who are involved in the programme to provide their perspective about their involvement, and how they are supported.
We also include a non-registrant visitor at all approval visits, wherever possible. These visitors will have used or engaged with the service(s) of HCPC registrant(s), and will not be registered with any of the nine heath and care regulators. These lay visitors have been selected to ensure they have the skills and experience required to make judgements about the programme as a whole, rather than focusing on service user and carer issues only.
Evidence we expect to see
We appreciate that expectations about the level and type of service user and carer involvement will vary between professions, and that different programmes will meet the standard in different ways.
As with the other standards of education and training, the burden of evidence is on the education provider. They will need to be able to explain and justify where and how service user and carer involvement takes place, as appropriate to the programme.
Guidance and support for education providers
All approval visits have a member of the Executive attached to them to help facilitate the visit process. Any queries about approval visits should be directed at this individual.
To assist with education providers’ thinking around this standard, we ran well attended seminars in the Autumn-Winter of 2013. We have written a blog about these seminars, and the resources are available here. We will run similar seminars in Autumn-Winter of this year. More information about our seminars can be found here.