Care in Mind has recently employed a new staff member for a completely new and unique role. I asked our Clinical Psychologist, who implemented this role, why we have them, I also asked the new staff, Maggie some questions. Carry on reading to find out more about this unique role!

Clinical Psychologist:

  • What is a service user coordinator?

Service User Coordinators are crucial to Care in Mind. She will work hard to try and interest our Young People in getting involved in all aspects of the company. In that way, Young People here are not just involved in their own care but making sure their ideas are echoed across the service. Maggie will be able to gather the views of Young People and represent these at every level.

  • Why do we have these roles?

Mental health services can often place a lot of value in learned expertise e.g. professional qualifications. Of course, these are important, but what about the value of what we learn from lived experience?

Knowing what it is like to receive care from services is a really helpful insight into our Young Peoples’ experiences. Service User Coordinators have the benefit of both of these positions, which helps them see things through different lenses.

  • So, what things do they do?

Essentially Maggie will be trying to;

  • Give young people a stronger voice in the service.
  • Encouraging and supporting involvement in different projects, for example looking at new houses, reviewing the literature we use, interviewing and training staff. The possibilities are endless.

As  a Coordinator, she will;

  • Oversee this work and come up with creative ideas to involve young people- not just those in service but those also those who have now left Care in Mind.
  • Meet with similar services across the country to share ideas.

It’s an exciting new development and it feels as if Maggie is already starting to make changes!

Service User Coordinator – Maggie

What interests you about the roles?

Maggie – In recent years there has been a real drive and emphasis on empowering service users to have an active role in the care they receive and in their recovery, something which only continues to gain momentum as more services continue to recognise the importance and benefit of service user involvement.

From my own experience, I have an understanding of how powerless it can feel, how easy it can be to get lost within services without any real say in your own recovery. 

I hope I can help the young people to feel empowered, to feel confident, to have a voice and ensure they receive the best care, care which is informed and shaped by them.

I am really excited to have the opportunity to work within such a unique setting like Care In Mind and have the chance to be in a role that is dedicated to enabling the young people to guide, influence and steer their own care.

Why/How do you think having a service user would help Young People?

Maggie – There is overwhelming evidence that indicates that service user involvement not only improves services but can help service users gain confidence, independence and skills that can aid recovery.

I hope having a dedicated service user coordinator will give the YP confidence and the recognition, across all aspects of the service, that they are experts by experience and the most equipped to shape services for the better.

I also hope it also offers up more opportunities for the young people to gain some new skills, experiences and have some fun.

I have personally experienced Mental Health Services in one way or another,  and so have a fairly experienced understanding of the impact it could [potentially] have upon a young person (service user). I think it’s important for them to recognise that the person there to help, has also been through similar.

If I was put in the position again, struggling with my Mental Health, I think I would personally find it comforting knowing that the Service User Coordinator has been through similar to what I’d be going through and as a direct result, would be more willing to communicate my thoughts, feelings and understandings of my problems or what I want/need to the Service User Coordinator.

What things have you planned already?

Maggie – We will be holding a get-together for all the young people, to introduce ourselves, tell the YP a bit about what our role is and allow the young people to have the chance to get to know us before sharing pizza and playing a few games. We hope to hold this first session in the next four weeks and then once every month.

We are also liaising with external organisations to arrange training sessions about engagement and services user involvement for staff and young people. We’re also in the early stages of planning in-house participation training for our YPs that will be fully informed and tailored to their needs.