Giving service users a voice is what inspired Eden Futures to create an ‘Expert by Experience’ Programme. The supported living provider has recruited an existing service user to gain an even greater understanding of how to further improve their care services. Expert by Experience is currently a pilot programme, but due to the success so far Eden Futures hope to invite more service users to join across the organisation throughout the year.

We’re enthusiastic about innovation at Eden Futures and we work to foster a learning culture so that professional development is at the heart of the company and practices are always improving.

'In your shoes'

It’s extremely important that we receive feedback from our service users and we believe that the best way to do this is to give them the opportunity to talk to someone who’s been in their shoes. Our ‘Expert by Experience,’ Stefan, who is autistic, does a tremendous job of putting people at ease and getting to the bottom of what their concerns are.

It can be something as simple as how they’re feeling, whether they’re getting the right opportunities to develop and make their own choices, whether they’re being kept informed, if they feel safe and listened to, or if they are involved in the development of their support plans, Stefan provides the reassurance that they’ve got someone who truly understands them.

Getting it right

Stefan’s role is just as much about guiding our support workers as it is listening to service users. He observes the behaviour they display towards individuals in their care and ensures they remain professional but human at the same time. He works alongside our Quality Team, visiting services to highlight great practice and establish what areas can be improved upon or expanded. He also contributes to the ‘Your Role’ part of the induction programme by giving a presentation on what a good support worker looks like and shares the difficulties he has experienced throughout his life when support has not been right for him.

Stefan has extensive personal experience of using health and social care services so is in a great position to advise us. It’s so much easier to deliver exceptional support when we know what our service users want from the start and Stefan helps us to understand that.”

In his words, “The Experts by Experience programme means service users REALLY have a voice.”

Eden Futures is preparing to bring in a second Expert by Experience as the pilot programme with Stefan has been such a success.