Recruitment and selection of staff can be complex and all staff
involved require training to undertake it successfully. Service
user involvement in this process is not a new concept but to
involve them without being tokenistic and without training presents
a real challenge to me.
For many years my day service has had a service user panel
conducting interviews for candidates before a main interview with
the management team. Once each panel has made a decision the
results are discussed. This is where the difficulties start. On
many occasions I have found myself appointing a person who is not
the service users’ first choice. This does not rest easy with my
My fears about this matter were recently alleviated when it was
discussed at a day service managers’ meeting. We found that each
day service had a variety of methods to involve the users and we
felt that a more consistent approach was required.
From this meeting, a colleague, Teresa Brough from Moorlands day
service, Staffordshire, set up a working group, consisting of
representatives from two other day services, the day service
modernisation co-ordinator and a personnel manager. The aim of the
group was to produce a team of trained service users to assist in
the recruitment and selection process. The terms of reference were:
“To formulate a training package for service users in recruitment
with the department’s human resource section, developing inclusive
interview panels while highlighting and promoting best
The group has produced a training package for service users, making
it accessible, using pictures, symbols and other media. The package
involves looking at the designations we interview for, what sort of
person we would want, how we would find that person and what
questions we need to ask. It then goes on to discuss policies and
legislation which includes confidentiality, equal opportunities and
various relevant acts.
Finally, the course covers decision-making, choosing the right
person, how to disagree and feelings after the interview is
To give the training the credence it deserves, it will be held at
the department’s staff development training centre. The plan now is
to run a pilot course for service users from three of the nine day
services. It is envisaged that the service users who complete the
training will have a presence on the main interview panel.
If the pilot training proves successful it will probably be offered
to the other day services and to people who are resident in the
local authority care homes.
Ultimately, we would like to pay service users who are involved.
This forward-thinking project could provide meaningful service user
involvement in the recruitment and selection process.
Nichola Edge manages a day service in Staffordshire for
people with learning difficulties