An Evaluation of Public Involvement Training for Service Users and Carers

A team of lay evaluators has found that PPIE training for service users and carers increases knowledge and confidence, regarding involvement in the research process. 

A public involvement training package for service users and carers was coproduced as part of the DIAMONDs project (Diabetes and mental illness: improving outcomes and services, http://clahrc-yh.nihr.ac.uk/our-themes/mental-health-co-morbidities/our-projects-1/the-diamonds-programme) in CLAHRC YH.  The aim of the training is to offer an enjoyable and informative introduction to the processes involved in health care research and the ways in which members of the public could contribute to the process of research design and delivery. 

The reason for evaluating the training package was to find out if the training increased the knowledge, understanding, skills and confidence of participants, regarding their involvement in the research process.

A team of people from the University of Huddersfield Public Partnership Group (https://www.hud.ac.uk/about/community-impact/community-engagement/service-user-and-carer-involvement/), which includes members of the public and University staff, hosted the training days and designed and carried out the evaluation.  They used surveys, interviews and observation to gather information about the training and the participants’ experience, immediately following the training and after 3 months.  Thirteen people attended the training and agreed to be involved in the evaluation.

The evaluation showed that that the training package had indeed increased the knowledge, understanding and skills and that the participants’ level of confidence had been raised. The training had already enabled some participants to get involved in different and new areas of research processes, further demonstrating that the delivery team's training objectives had been met.

Several learning points were made to improve the training further.  Although the content was considered to need very little change, participants felt that it is important to invest more time in group dynamics and discussion time, to slow the delivery and consider more innovative ways of obtaining feedback in discussions.  A masterclass approach might allow for more focus on the more complex aspects of involvement.  And finally, the venue as ever is important, especially so with service users and carers.  They may be less tolerant than students or academics of too much difficulty or distraction. Essentials such as lighting, heating, noise, seats, room setting are all important for enhancing the learning environment.

The training team are adapting the training package in response to the evaluation and have planned two more rounds of training this year, for service users and carers working with NIHR programmes in the YH region.  They are exploring the inclusion of lay facilitators as part of the training team, to enable the package to become more sustainable.

For more information please contact Christine Smith, PPI Lead for CLAHRC YH (c.smith4@hud.ac.uk).