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Listening and learning from the unheard: inter-professional learning and people with learning disabilities who are non-verbal communicators

Photo of Stef Lunn The experiences of patients, service users and customers are key in educating the next generation of health and social care professionals. Accordingly, the input of 'expert patients' is included in the student experience at higher education institutions. This 'Service User involvement' is clearly a step in the right direction, but can be criticised for:

  • Tokenism - people are 'brought in' to deliver an account of their experience within the narrow terms of the professionals; this can preclude an equal partnership
  • Narrow Representation - it can be difficult for people to share their experiences. There are a number of obstacles preventing a fair and frank exchange of ideas. Often the bravest and most articulate provide the only customer feedback, resulting in a less than balanced knowledge base for students.

This project is designed to enable the non-verbal to find a way of sharing their thoughts, feelings and experience of services. It seeks to redress the power imbalance and, in turn, improve the education of pre-qualification professionals.

Stephanie Lunn is a Teaching Fellow in the School of Health and Social Studies. She is also a practising Social Worker with an interest in creating environments that are inclusive of people with learning disabilities.


Stephanie interviewed by Susan Brock (IATL)

(PDF Document) Interim report

(PDF Document) Final report

(Video clip) Interview (video) - see bottom of this page