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Experts by Experience

Expert by Experience Rafik Hamaizia (far right) and National Lead for Experts by Experience Kim Arnold (2nd right) were judges at the 2016 3rd Sector Care Awards and attended the award ceremony hosted by Esther Rantzen. (Photo: Ravi Chandarana Photography)

We believe people with first-hand experience of health and social care services are best qualified to assess service quality.

Our commitment to that principle is embedded in our work, and is one reason why the Care Quality Commission (CQC) contract us to recruit, train and manage Experts by Experience. Experts by Experience are people who have direct experience of using health and social care services, employed to take part in CQC inspections of health and social care services, and visits to monitor the use of the Mental Health Act.

Laura Broughton was a CQC Expert for some years. Her work included helping with the high-profile CQC review of nearly 150 learning disabilities services, prompted by the Winterbourne View scandal:

"Being part of this review was a good experience for me. It gave me the experience of what it is really like for other people who have a learning disability. What happened at Winterbourne View was terrible and should have never happened.

Some of the people I met should have more help in getting a better life. They were often bored and distressed and staff talked to them not as adults but as though they were children. Some of the people weren’t treated as individuals and certainly not in a person centred way. I felt some people didn’t get the opportunities they should have because they couldn’t speak or because others felt their behaviour was challenging.”

As well as being valuable work in itself, the Experts by Experience programme provides much needed paid employment opportunities for people who sometimes find it hard to get work. Laura continues:

“It was good for me because I'm now a lot more confident, I’ve got a paid job as an Expert by Experience. Having a paid job is new for me as it is with a lot of people who have a learning difficulty. I have a voice and I was able to help other people living in these services to have a voice.”

We started Experts by Experience work with CQC in 2010, and our contract was renewed in 2015. We currently lead a consortium of 12 providers and user-led organisations, employing more than 300 Experts to work with CQC in their central region. One of our consortium partners My Life My Choice recently scooped the Best Co-Production prize at the first ever National Advocacy Awards. 

Three Experts by Experience from Choice Support are featured in videos to help train Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspectors. Steve Kuspert, Rafik Hamaizia and Monique Mehra were all filmed talking about their work; see them in the video below.

How it works

Our Experts by Experience are drawn from the following groups:

  • people in the early stages of dementia and their family carers
  • people who have used mental health services
  • people who are currently or have been detained under the Mental Health Act
  • people who have experience of accessing substance misuse services
  • people who have a learning disability and/or autism who use services
  • people who are family carers of relatives who have profound and multiple learning disabilities, complex needs, and/or behaviours that can be described as challenging
  • people who have a physical disability
  • people who have a sensory impairment
  • family carers of children and young people who use health services
  • family carers of children and young people who use mental health services
  • children and young people who use services
  • people who have used maternity services in the past five years.

Experts by Experience take part in inspections of services with an inspector, either on a visit to a service, on the telephone or at a group meeting. Their work also includes consultations, CQC staff training and developing CQC practice.

We regularly recruit for Experts by Experience in targeted areas and only in the Central region of England. When recruiting we will post details in the job section of the Choice Support website.

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Experts by Experience at the Care Quality Commission - The Guardian


Working as Experts by Experience - Community Care


One of our consortium partners My Life My Choice recently scooped the Best Co-Production prize at the first ever National Advocacy Awards.

Contact us

Experts by Experience

Email: expertsbyexperience@choicesupport.org.uk
or telephone: 0207 261 4100

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