Service User & Carer Engagement



Comensus involves service users, carers and the wider community in scholarly activities across a number of Schools in the Faculty of Health and Wellbeing. Comensus has been developed to embed service user and carer voices within health and social care practice. We provide a central hub for co-ordination and facilitation of user and carer involvement.

Comensus developed out of an action research project originally formed in 2004 funded by the then Faculty of Health at the University of Central Lancashire. Its aim was to develop the systematic and strategic involvement of health and social care service users and carers in all areas of scholarly activity.

For more Information on becoming a volunteer click here.


Goodbye to Linda Sanderson, Principal Lecturer in Children’s Nursing


Linda has worked with Comensus for many years and has championed service user and

carer involvement in nursing programmes. We wish her well for the future and for her new role with a children’s charity in Yorkshire. Linda had the following message for all our volunteers: ‘Please say goodbye to everyone at Comensus and tell them how much I have enjoyed working with them over the past twelve years. They have taught me a lot’.

Interviewing applicants for nursing

Ann Rawsthorne

Sixty two years ago—at the age of ann r.pngeighteen I wrote a letter to the Matron of the local Children’s Hospital. 

Very brief and to the point:

‘Dear Matron,

              I would like to be a children’s nurse. Please could you tell me how I go about it.’

Obviously it was before the days of Career Advisors.

Luckily for me she told me to fill in a form, write a four page essay and go for an interview. I passed!!

So began a wonderful life long job in various branches of Nursing Care and a developing insight into Social Care.

I am still, 62 years later on the fringes helping out (interfering ) when I get the opportunity but still as enthusiastic about my choice as I was then. This is partly the reason for liking interviews.

It is great to meet and get the opportunity to talk and ask questions of mainly young people at the start of their careers. You can see it in their faces, the hope, the enthusiasm, their desire to do well and the longing to be accepted. When asked the question “why do you want to be a ….” if you are lucky their face breaks into a smile, their eyes light up and their voices change. The enthusiasm shows—its like switching on a light in a dark room.

Sadly this does not always happen and not all applicants are accepted but I honestly believe this is not always a bad thing. If they are committed they will continue to try and if a ‘no’ puts them off they were perhaps not on the right path anyway.

As long as they leave feeling that they have had a fair hearing, been treated with honesty and kindness as they all are at UCLan then at least we have done them no harm and may well have helped them to rationalise their dreams and desires into more realistic choices.

However I must admit I still get a kick as when the student leaves the room, the lecturer and I look at each other and say ‘YES’.

Working with Comensus a staff view

– Emma Jones

Comensus are heavily involved in all the modules I lead in the mental health division, including modules in preregistration nursing and post graduate programmes. Their input is invaluable and the modules would not be as good without their involvement. I have found working with Comensus a pleasure and during each session I do with theemma jones.pngm I take something away with me as well as the students.
Students love the chance to ask Comensus volunteers questions in an open and comfortable environment. Hearing from people who have experienced mental health problems allows the students to gain insight into what it is like for the service users they work with on their placements. One student commented that is was inspiring to see someone she had previously worked with now teaching at UCLan. It made her feel like what she does makes a difference. I find it really useful for the team at Comensus to discuss the things that they found helpful, so we can encourage our students to work in this way when they are on placement and when they qualify.