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Buckinghamshire New University has won Partnership of the Year at the Student Nursing Times Awards for an initiative which supports the recruitment and training of its student nurses and social workers. The University works with Independent Voices to encourage local service users and their carers to share their experiences and shape the education of healthcare professionals.
The Independent Voices volunteers are involved in many different ways including being part of interview panels for prospective students, helping develop the students' curriculum and giving talks to build students' understanding of conditions from both patients' and carers' perspectives. The volunteers also take part in simulations which give students the opportunity to practice their skills in a life-like setting.
Sue West, Dean of the Faculty of Society & Health at Bucks New University, said:
"I'm proud to see our partnership with Independent Voices recognised because it makes a significant difference to the nurses and social workers of tomorrow and the people for whom they will care. I'm delighted that Bucks New University was also named as finalists for a further six awards, across a broad range of categories. "The Student Nursing Times Awards celebrate the very best in student nurses and nurse education. It's great to see the excellent programmes we offer and the efforts of our staff and students acknowledged through these prestigious awards."
Angie Camden, from Independent Voices, who helps to coordinate the volunteers explains how she first became involved:
"I left my job to help care for my husband who has mental health issues and my mother who was at that time terminally ill. Although I'd experienced tough times, I realised that my experiences could help influence future outcomes for others and make a positive difference. "All of our volunteers have diverse experiences, either personally or by their impact on a loved one. When we sit alongside one of the University's academics on an interview panel, we have an equal vote when deciding if the interviewee would make a good student nurse or social worker. I think we all focus on how they'll care for people and will they be compassionate? "Talking to students about our experiences can help them to reflect on their own actions during their placements and when they qualify. It's a very positive way to create something good from the bad things that can happen to us all in life."
Kathryn Smales, who leads on Service User Engagement at Bucks New University, said: "We are very grateful for the time and expertise that volunteers such as Angie provide. They add an invaluable dimension to our nursing recruitment and training because they bring their own experiences and insight to bear. It's so powerful when a carer or service user can explain how nurses or social workers have made them feel, in both positive and negative ways."
Julia Wassell, Principal Lecturer in Social Work at Bucks New University, said:
"Students report to us that the scheme breaks down barriers, enhances anti-discriminatory practice and brings real life stories into the classroom. The team value working in partnership with Independent Voices in lectures, student interviews and committees."
The University sponsored the award for Outstanding Contribution to Student Affairs which was won by Jodi Shaw from The University of Nottingham.First picture caption: Kathryn Smales, who leads on Service User Engagement at Bucks New University, with Angie Camden, of Independent Voices.
Second and third picture captions: The winning team at the at the Student Nursing Times Awards.