In 2008 mental health service users from Genesis (Leicester City) and the People’s Forum (Leicestershire County and Rutland) embarked on a pilot research study – not only giving service users a voice but being that voice.
From the success of the study came the Service User and Carer Research Audit Network (SUCRAN), led by a Steering Group of service users and carers, with support from De Montfort University, the group now employs a Project Manager and a pool of more than 30 interviewers.
The ethos of the project is that all interviewers are service users and carers themselves. Survey participants feel supported and less intimidated being interviewed by peers and more people opt into the survey thus producing robust evidence based research and enhanced richness of results.
Our aim is to bring about, by our findings, a shift in culture toward service user centered care.
Those involved in the project derive huge benefit too. They are employed as research interviewers by De Montfort University having completed interviews, training, CRB and occupational health checks.
In additional to feeling empowered and gaining valuable work experience service users and carers are supported by peers, the project team, academics, welfare rights and have access to psychological support and interpreter services.
Every stage of the process from questionnaire design to data analysis and report writing is service user and carer led – real involvement.