Lived Experience

Lived experience in practice

Published: 28/05/2020

Author: Angela Newton and Darren Murrinas

Lived experience is a phrase that keeps on cropping up and is becoming an increasingly popular term that more and more people across the social care sector are hearing, using and paying attention to. What is all the fuss? What does it mean in practice?

Listening to and understanding the views of people where there may be barriers to participation is key to ensuring they are supported in the best way possible. This is particularly important in practice areas such as assessment, supporting planning and recording.

In our new five part webinar series – Lived experience in practice – we share thoughts, knowledge, expertise and experience in this area to help social care practitioners and their managers get to grips with everything that is lived experience! We will share expertise from the sector about how to reduce barriers to communication and engagement for people. Focusing on the experience of people with complex lives and circumstances who may have been described as ‘hard to reach’ and can be easy to ignore, and which may mean current services are difficult to engage with.

So what do we mean when we talk about ‘lived experience’?

There is lots of different definitions of lived experience, but that the one that we think is the most useful, is the one defined by Baljeet Sandhu in 2017 as:

‘The experience(s) of people on whom a social issue, or combination of issues, has had a direct impact’.

So, if you have directly experienced domestic abuse, homelessness, mental health issues or misused drugs and alcohol, you have lived experience of these issues – you have lived it, breathed it, worn the t-shirt and read the book. As such, the wisdom and insight that you bring to the world, and that you bring to those who work in social care, is unique and valuable.

Listening to, hearing and acting on the experiences of people with lived experience is a bit like when successful businesses learn what makes their customers happy (and how they can do more of that) and what doesn’t (and they want less of). However, it is not quite as easy as that. Whilst customers have a choice of the businesses they use most of the time, most people accessing social care services have much less of a choice. And this is why it’s so important for social care professionals to understand and embrace lived experience.

In the webinar series we want participants to be able to share their experiences from practice to explore successful ways of working with people to understand the key challenges and how they can be overcome. This includes addressing key questions such as:

  • What is lived experience and why is it important now and in the future?
  • Who has lived experience, and how is it relevant to those who are hardest to reach, easiest to ignore or lack capacity?
  • How is lived experience different to learned experience, and is one better than the other?
  • What principles underpin how we think about and tap into people’s lived experience?

It will also be an opportunity to come together online with other social care professionals to explore:

  • What are the main challenges that you face when working with and supporting people with lived experience?
  • What tools and resources can be used to further develop your skills, knowledge and understanding of working with people with lived experience?

Each session will last just over an hour and you’ll have the opportunity to hear from us directly, as well as taking part in a group discussion and connecting with others interested in this increasingly important area of work. You will also have the opportunity to further embed your knowledge by undertaking a range of tasks in between the sessions.

Whilst you can dip in and out of these session, we’d recommend taking part in the full series to really get to grips with all things lived experience and be able to put this into practice in future.

Angela Newton and Darren Murrinas

Angela Newton is the founder of Lived Experience Matters and has spent 20 years working in mental health and social care, specialising is service user involvement, service user leadership, and co-production. Angela has successfully developed ways of embedding lived experience across organisations, including within frontline operational services and through the establishment of a national peer support service. Angela has also established an award winning service user led training project, developed and delivered accredited training programmes and delivered a range of workshops and training sessions to staff at all levels across statutory, private and voluntary sector services. Angela also has personal experience of mental distress and has sought professional support when required. Darren Murrinas is the Chief Executive Officer of Expert Citizen an independent group of people who have experienced multiple needs – combinations of mental ill health, homelessness, addiction and offending behaviour. Since leaving prison, Darren has become a public speaker, blogger, film maker and multiple needs activist. Darren also leads the annual National Insight Awards that celebrates examples of positive or outstanding practice.

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