Teaching and Learning

Comensus is the market leader in service user and carer involvement with Higher Education in the UK. We support students to be the best practitioners, researchers and educators they can be, and our aim is to provide a new dimension to the student experience at UCLan. Our volunteers are supported by a co-ordinator, Lisa Malihi-Shoja; project worker Janet Garner and peer mentor Ernie Mallen.

Comensus benefits academic staff by:

  • Helping to match up service users and carers from our database to your requests for involvement
  • Helping you with research and publications
  • Providing panel members for recruitment of staff and students
  • Supporting innovation and best practice by publicising your user/carer involvement at Open Days, conferences and community events
  • Supporting and guiding individual academics who wish to develop service user/carer involvement
  • Contributing to the validation and quality assurance processes for modules and courses

Please see the list below for the different areas that Comensus members are involved in.

We currently work with many different schools on campus, see below what we are doing in each school:

School of Social Work, Care and Community

Service user and carer involvement has been facilitated, in the School of Social Work, Care and Community, for many years by the SUCAG service user and advisory group. The group has regular meetings with academics to plan involvement across the School including the following programmes:

Their aim is to provide a service user and carer perspective to social care education which challenges prejudices to enable change and improve practice.

Comensus and SUCAG work in partnership to design and deliver their own module titled ‘Users and Carers: Exploring our own experiences’.

Service users and carers deliver keynotes lectures and small group seminars at both Preston and Burnley campus’ on a variety of topics delivered from a service user/carer perspective. These include topics such as risk assessment, inclusive practice, partnership working and stigma/discrimination.

Comensus and SUCAG contribute to a large number of other social work focused programmes including the MA Social Work programme which involves specific teaching on areas requested by academic staff and the marking of poster presentations.

If you are a service user/carer who would like to get involved in teaching or marking please contact Comensus at or call us on +44 (0)1772 893818.

School of Medicine

The School of Medicine invited the Comensus service user and carer group to help plan patient involvement across the MBBS curriculum from its inception. Members were invited to help develop the course, contribute to validation meetings, review case studies for problem based learning scenarios and shortlist candidates for interview.

Since 2015 we welcomed the first cohort of medical students to UCLan and have been involved in delivering weekly clinical communication skills training. Students are encouraged to develop their skills by listening to real patients talk about their lives, their conditions and their management of medication. Comensus also help by contributing to clinical skills training, making films and participating in the admissions process for next year’s students.

Due to the success of this first year, we are now involved with planning for year 2 and recruiting the second cohort of students to the MBBS programme . Our remit also now extends to pharmacology modules, helping with research assessments and participating in the new pilot programme for Physicians Associates 2016.

If you are a user of primary and secondary health care, please contact in the first instance or phone the Comensus office on 01772 893818 to talk about how you can get involved.

School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences

Comensus have provided patient and public engagement (PPE) in the school since 2013. Under the direction of the School lead for PPE, Ann Urmston, Comensus delivered multiple sessions to MPharm students focussing on different health conditions and inviting students to ask lots of questions.

Since then, PPE has extended into engagement in multiple modules across the different years of the MPharm programme, culminating in year 4 with a service user and carer Congress day. This day is facilitated by Comensus and is delivered by 14 diverse community groups from the local area. Students are invited to engage with service users from the Travellers community, drug and alcohol therapeutic communities, centres for the homeless and many more.

In 2015 Comensus were invited to input into a new PPE strategy for the School to contribute to a re-accreditation of the programme. Janet Garner has now been appointed as Involvement facilitator to help embed patient and public engagement further into the Admissions process and assessment.

Biomedical sciences tutors Peter Abel and Niall Woods have also engaged with Comensus to help students see the real person behind the biomedical work they are beginning. Our work in the Healthcare Sciences field includes:

  • Applicant days
  • Train the trainer days for placement mentors
  • Communication skills sessions with patients

School of Community Health and Midwifery, School of Health Sciences, School of Nursing

Comensus is an initiative which involves service users, carers and the wider community across the range of under graduate and post graduate courses delivered by the College of Health and Wellbeing at the University of Central Lancashire. Service users and carers offer a unique independent insight by sharing their lived experience and narratives of health and social care this enhances student knowledge, is based in reality and reflects current up to the minute practice issues. Comensus work in partnership with academic staff to deliver first class teaching to students in the three key areas of nursing teaching: Mental Health, Adult and Children’s nursing. Within these areas, service users and carers are invited to share their experiences in a number of modules covering a number of topics which may include:

  • Communication skills
  • Equality and diversity issues
  • Working with violence and aggression
  • Forensic services
  • Dual diagnosis
  • Long term conditions
  • Infection prevention & control
  • Anaesthetic and recovery care
  • Promoting healthy ageing
  • Caring for children with complex needs (not a module)

If you are a service user/patient or carer with knowledge of these or other relevant issues and feel you would like to share your experiences in a supportive environment, please contact Comensus on +44 (0)1772 893818 or email

School of Sport and Wellbeing

Comensus were invited by the school to provide service user/carer involvement to Therapy students. The group delivered 2 days of keynote lectures to first year Sports Therapy students and Physiotherapy students. Topics covered included Equality and Diversity and Communication skills.

Students gained a lot from the two days and especially enjoyed the interactive sessions with service users and carers and the chance to ask questions. We hope to repeat the sessions to next year’s first year students.

Teaching and learning

Teaching and learning

Teaching and learning

Congress days

Each year the SUCAG group (from the School of Social Work, Care and Community) and Comensus work together to organise a Congress day for students on various health and social care courses. On the day community groups are invited to deliver workshops to students. The Congress theme ‘Challenging Prejudice: Issues in Health and Social Care’ allows the community groups to explore with the students equality and diversity issues, issues around resources and support and allows the student to reflect on their own practice in a safe environment. The workshops are delivered to over 400 students on the Congress day.

A congress is also held in March for health students comprised of a similar layout, but more geared towards health.

If you are a member of a community group, interested in taking part, please contact Janet Garner on +44 (0)1772 895146 or email Lisa

SUCAG Conference