Having experience with an illness can give you invaluable knowledge about what treatment works. At Sussex Partnership Foundation Trust, we want to use this to help our services; by offering the chance for current or former service users along with carers to join our Experts by Experience Programme. Experts by Experience provides the Trust with valuable input about how the service we offer helps our users and where we can improve. Members of the Experience team do this by giving their feedback on services, sharing views on future service plans and participating in staff recruitment panels and group meetings.
One of the best ways the team can help is through our patient experience groups. At least once a month, the team meet up and share their experiences both in our service and out of it, therefore creating a community where people feel comfortable to speak regardless of their experiences. We break the stigma around the issues we treat and get people openly talking about them. This helps us make sure that our service users feel like they're involved in their care plans and actually have someone voicing how to best provide care in our wards and sites.
"Why should someone who isn’t using the mental health services be designing the mental health services?... That’s why we have Experts by Experience. They allow us what is going on in our services and what can be improved."
Jane- Expert by Experience member.
To ensure that our Expert by Experience team has the best start working with us, we provide them with training via workshops. Our regular workshops are for people to gain skills and get involved in a range of participation activities. The day-long workshop shows you how to communicate personal experiences in a way that creates meaningful changes in services and supports you. The aim of the workshop is for you to be able to use your experiences, good and bad, in a way that is safe for you, to make positive changes in the organisation, be confident and effective in meetings, and know how to access involvement and participation opportunities if you would like to. By the end of our workshop, you will understand how you can get involved and join our bank 'Experts by Experience' team, who will be offered opportunities in a wide range of projects. The one-day workshops are delivered by the Trust's Recovery College network, and we have had over 150 people have graduate from them.
Once you have completed the workshop, you will be registered as a new Expert by Experience and be able to apply for our participation roles, along with being subscribed to our mailing list. In our emails, we will keep you up to date with the opportunities to work with us at the Trust. As part of our Expert by Experience team, we will invite you to attend events we host, along with having your travel paid for. We want to make sure you help us show off the best Sussex Partnership can offer!
If you decide to go for one of our jobs whilst being part of the Experts by Experience team, then we will be there to help you every step of the way. While submitting your application we will offer support from our People Participation Team. We value you, your input, and your time, which is why all of our Expert by Experience roles are paid opportunities.
Using experiences and low points in life to help create something better so that other people won't face the same issues. This all helps us create a better environment so that we can give the best care possible to our service users.