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Comensus project: action research evaluation

Objective To develop and evaluate service user, carer and community involvement in health and social care education.

Background Despite the high policy profile of involvement issues, there appear to be no published accounts of schemes that have used a systematic whole-faculty approach to community engagement in health and social care higher education.

Setting and participants Staff from the faculty of health in one University, local service users and carers and community group project workers and local National Health Service (NHS) and public sector staff.

Design Participatory action research including document review, field notes, questionnaires and interviews.

Analysis Thematic analysis. The emerging themes were tested by seeking disconfirming data, and through verification with stakeholders.

Results Prior to the study, there were examples of community engagement in the participating faculty, but they occurred in specific departments, and scored low on the ladder of involvement. Some previous attempts at engagement were perceived to have failed, resulting in resistance from staff and the community.

Despite this, an advisory group was successfully formed, and project framing and development evolved with all stake-holders over the subsequent year. The four themes identified in this phase were: building accessibility; being proper service users ‚ĀĄcarers;

Project Group

M McKeowen, L Kolocheck, L Shoja, Comensus project groups.


UCLan Dept of Nursing

Paper published

Downe S, McKeown M, Johnson E, Comensus Community Involvement Team, Comensus Advisory Group, Koloczek L, Grunwald A, Malihi-Shoja L. 2007 The UCLan Engagement and Service User Support (Comensus) project: Valuing authenticity, making space for emergence. Health Expectations, 10(4):392-406.