Teaching and Learning

Inter professional learning

Congress days for Health, Social Work and Pharmacy

Each year the SUCAG group (from the School of Social Work) and Comensus work together to organise a Congress day for students on various health and social care courses. On the day we invite community groups to deliver workshops to students. The Congress theme ‘Challenging Prejudice: Issues in Health and Social Care’ allows 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.

If you are a member of a community group, interested in taking part, please contact comensusoffice@uclan.ac.uk.

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

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 Carer Advisory Group. SUCAG (Service User and Carer Advisory Group) is a small and friendly group of service users, carers and academics who raise awareness of social care issues throughout the School of Social Work, Care and Community. 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’.

SUCAG currently deliver their own module on the BA Social Work Programme around the service user and carer perspective. This involves the planning and delivery of keynotes, seminars and time to talk sessions. Service users and carers deliver these sessions on both Preston and Burnley campus’ on a variety of topics delivered from a service user/carer perspective.

Service users and carers also deliver a wide range of other sessions on other courses within the School including 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 Comensusoffice@uclan.ac.uk or call us on +44 (0)1772 893818.

The School of Nursing offers BSc and MSc pre-registration courses in Adult Nursing, Mental Health Nursing, Mental Health Practice, and Children's Nursing. Comensus volunteers are often involved right from the beginning, contributing in different ways to public Open Days, student recruitment and programme planning. Their input into teaching ranges from speaking at lectures and seminars, to acting out roles in a simulated clinical environment.

The School of Sport and Health Sciences covers a wide range of health professional education, offering courses in Physiotherapy, Sports Therapy, Paramedic Practice, Operating Department Practice, Health Informatics, and Acute & Emergency Care. Comensus volunteers are involved in these curricula in a growing number of correspondingly diverse ways, from acting as Simulated Patients, to promoting safe practice and describing what it is like to have an operation.



The School of Community Health & Midwifery hosts learning programmes in Health & Social Care, Midwifery, Sexual Health, Family and Community Health, Public Health, Counselling & Psychological Therapies etc. Comensus volunteers are increasingly helping to facilitate learning by, for example, being test subjects for student counsellors, sharing their experiences of being transgender, and coming to talk to students as a part of a condition specific community support group.


MBBS Medicine degree

The Comensus service user and carer group have been involved in the design and development of the proposed MBBS programme for international students since its inception in 2014. From its earliest days, volunteers were trained to assist in the admissions process by forming part of a ‘selection panel’ for shortlisting applications to the programme and acting as interviewers later on for the MMI station interviews. This ensured they could be involved fully in the decision-making process. Patient involvement in the MBBS course for medical students has now evolved in 2016 to full integration into the Admissions process as well as a number of other key areas of the curriculum.

Clinical communication skills

From September 2015 we have worked with Dr Gerry Browne, Clinical Communications Lead for the School of Medicine to prepare students for placement by engaging with them in history-taking sessions, delivering lessons on ‘Learning to listen’ and acting as ‘patients’ for clinical skills teaching. Volunteers are fully supported and briefed prior to each session and our members enjoy interacting with the international students, learning about their culture and sharing their reflections and first hand experiences of healthcare in the NHS.


Comensus volunteers were also happy to get involved in marking assignments in the student portfolio and also assessing poster presentations at the end of the first year. The academic tutor gave our volunteers a full training session and briefing before the marking session which was also facilitated by dedicated Comensus staff.

As a result, feedback about both events was extremely positive with staff, service users and students and A service user marker commented: ‘it is encouraging to read reflections, and hear that the contributions volunteers have made during the year have made a difference in their development’
Some Comensus volunteers are also happy to act as ‘patients’ for the end of year clinical skills exams; if you would like to help out in this way, please let us know.

Meetings with the staff team and the GMC

As this is a new School of Medicine, we are visited regularly by the General Medical Council which is the UK regulator. They have commended Comensus for their good practice in involvement across all areas of the programme. The Comensus involvement facilitator, Janet Garner, aims to ensure that service users and carers have a voice at all strategic quality meetings and represents the group at monthly meetings. We also organise a meeting between volunteers and staff every 3 months to facilitate debate and feedback to ensure we can do the best job possible for the students.
Read more about the MBBS course.

If you are a user of primary and secondary care health services and would like to contribute to the training of future doctors, please contact Comensus at Comensusoffice@uclan.ac.uk or telephone our office on 01772 893818.

Physician Associate Studies postgraduate diploma

The School of Medicine welcomed its first cohort of NHS HEE-NW postgraduate students onto a 2-year pilot programme in January 2016. Comensus volunteers were invited to help students later in the semester with their clinical communication skills and to act as patients for their practice exams in May 2016. Service users and carers helped with history-taking sessions on diabetes, negotiation skills and neurological conditions. We hope to be involved later this year and again in year 2 of the programme.
School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences.

Comensus have now provided Patient & Public Engagement in the School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences for the last three years as it has now become a key requirement by the General Pharmaceutical Council and the Health Care Professions Council. Volunteers are invited to take part in individual teaching sessions on topics such as Medicines Management, Dispensing, Professional Practice and Prescribing and are fully briefed and supported by Comensus facilitators, staff and the PPE lead for the School, Ann Urmston. Since 2013, PPE has extended into being part of applicant days, parents panels and open days, culminating in year 4 with the Service user and Carer Congress day. Students attend workshops and engage with local community groups such as Littledale Hall drug & alcohol community, REACT group for those with learning disabilities, and Hearing Voices, Lancaster for those with mental health issues. Students especially commented on the fact that they:

‘ got to meet and hear stories of service users as it makes more of an impact on how I can help in the future’.
‘ I thought the whole event was extremely successful and has shown me so much, opened my eyes to things I wasn’t aware of’.
The event emphasised for them the importance of not being judgmental, of maintaining confidentiality and developing relationships with people.

MPharm curriculum

In 2015 Comensus were invited to input into a new PPE strategy for the School to contribute to a re-accreditation of the programme. The new UCLan MPharm (hons) degree has been designed with the patient at the centre, and will enable students to graduate with 6 key attributes: pharmacy expert, collaborator, communicator, health advocate, scholar and professional.

A dedicated Comensus facilitator was appointed to help embed patient and public engagement further into all areas of the course and will ensure patients are available to help students enhance their learning in holistic care and real-life experience.

The Biomedical Sciences programme also invites patients and the public to engage in communication skills sessions and ‘Train the trainer’ interactive sessions for placement mentors.

For further information about the School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences please visit their web page.

If you are a local user of pharmacy and healthcare science services and would like to help shape the practice of health professionals, please contact Stevie at Comensusoffice@uclan.ac.uk or telephone our office on 01772 893818.