Gina Gives A Voice To Social Care Users

A University of Lincoln expert is helping to shape understanding of social care issues around the world after being selected to serve on the editorial board of an international journal.

Gina Hardesty, Project Manager for Service User and Carer Participation at the University of Lincoln’s Hull School of Health and Social Care, can deliver her verdict on submissions to Social Work Education: The International Journal.

Gina, who is disabled herself, is one of only two service users from the UK to be selected for the editorial board. The position, which she will hold for five years, involves reading manuscripts and providing feedback to the authors.

Gina has been working at the Hull School of Health and Social Care since 2002.

She helped establish a group made up of people who have either received care from social services or cared for someone who has. This was in order to give students greater insight into the real-world nature of social work.

The team, known as the Service User Participation Advisory (SUPA) Group, now has more than 35 active members.

Over the past five years the group has had a major influence on the social care curriculum at the University and Gina has become a nationally-recognised voice on the need to involve service users and carers in social work education.

Gina said: “Service users can be anybody that accesses health or social care. It could be an older person that receives help within their own home, it could be young mums who are disabled or it could be people with mental health problems.

“Their input really adds value to the students’ education. We look at it as mixing experience with expertise. It’s probably the first time that social care students will have worked with the people they are eventually going to be working with once they qualify.

“The SUPA Group brings a wealth of knowledge to our students. We have had students in tears at the stories they have to tell. This type of learning experience cannot be gained from a text book – it is a different type of resource that is powerful and has its own academic value. It sits alongside the theory and brings what the students learn to life – putting real people and faces to the study programme rather than abstract case studies or pieces of text.”

Social Work Education: The International Journal is published eight times a year and all articles undergo anonymous double-blind peer review.