The term 'service user' is commonly used within the health professions. The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) uses the term to refer to those who use or are affected by the services of professionals registered with the HCPC, and expects to see evidence of their involvement in programmes that the HCPC approves (see the Service user and carer involvement page on their website for guidance).
Almost all employment roles involve some sort of 'service user' and enabling students to consider their provision for, support of, or impact on such people is a powerful way of grounding the students' learning. It is often very helpful for students if they perceive who their service users are, both directly and, as is often the case, indirectly as those in receipt of their professional outputs, or impacted by their decisions or plans.
In considering the service users pertinent to a particular course, a team might consider:
Providing opportunities for students to consider the needs of a range of service users, or to meet or work with service users to discuss how their work might impact, or be best configured for them can be a powerful means of embedding inclusivity within course delivery and assessment.
The ability to work with, and communicate with, service users are essential skills within some professions. Consultation with service users can help ascertain the qualities, attituides and approaches that are effectve for, or form barriers to, effective professional working, and this in turn can both inform and enrich the assocaited elements of course delivery and assessment.
There is an expectation that many health courses integrate service user interaction within learning activities, providing opportunities for students to evaluate how they work with clients and to gain rich understanding of the complex and varied backgrounds, expectations and needs they will encounter in practice. A similar approach can be pursued in many other courses, enabling students to consider the nature of their potential customers, clients, and colleagues. This can be particularly powerful as a means of ensuring diversity in society is not just discussed but also encountered, experienced, and understood.
Some examples of how service users can be involved in learning, teaching and assessment include: