Service user organizations in Switzerland
Next to social care provided by the state, self-help groups with somatic, psychological, social and other rarer issues are quite prevalent in Switzerland. In 1981, the first centre for self-help was created with the aim of developing and promoting self-help groups and in 1996 followed the foundation of a national association (i.e., “Selbsthilfe Schweiz”) to be able to represent the interests of the self-help groups with one voice. Today, “Selbsthilfe Schweiz” comprises more than 2000 self-help groups (Selbsthilfe Schweiz, 2015).
Contrary to self-help groups, user involvement has been slow to become included in public services in health and social work in Switzerland. The area in which user involvement has been most prominent is mental health (e.g., “Pro Mente Sana”, “EX-IN”). In 2013, people with psychiatric experience, founded the association “Peer Plus”, which is the first organization exclusively reserved for people with psychiatric experience who followed a qualification course. Peer involvement has also been quite prominent in the domain of substance abuse (prevention and treatment, e.g., [U25], Infodrog). Another type of user involvement is promoted by “Surprise”, which aims to help people in difficult situations to get themselves out of these conditions (e.g., sale of street papers, social city tours).
Service user involvement in education of social work (ZHAW)
In all BSc degree programs in social work, students have many encounters with service users during courses. Additionally, they do one year of internship, working in two different social work facilities. As we have not yet been able to implement a complete course with the gap-mending approach, we have introduced a part of it in a course of the MSc curriculum since fall 2015. The course comprises different intervention strategies and the topic of empowerment. It lasted eight hours (one day) focusing on the gap-mending approach. First, we give an overview on empowerment, social mobilisation and service user involvement. Afterwards, we discuss a paper on the challenges and opportunities of the empowerment approach (Askheim 2003). In the afternoon session, two social work professionals and two service users present the common development of a social city tour project, which has been developed in collaboration between social work professionals and users. They specifically discuss opportunities and challenges in working together on a project from the initial development phase to everyday collaboration. The students are able to discuss both with the social work professionals and the service users about their opinion of service user involvement and empowerment. Our first experience with the course based on the gap-mending approach with a reflexive and practice perspective was highly motivating and the feedback from all participants was very encouraging.
In another course of the MSc curriculum, which focuses on reflecting the development of projects in social work, one afternoon session is dedicated to courses with a gap mending approach as an example of innovative projects in social work education. We present examples, discuss a paper, watch a film and reflect about challenges and opportunities of courses with the gap-mending approach.
Chiapparini, E. (Hrsg.). (2016). The Service User as a Partner in Social Work Projects and Education. Concepts and Evaluations of Courses with a Gap-Mending Approach in Europe. Opladen, Berlin & Toronto: Budrich.
Eicher, V. & Chiapparini, E. (2016). Switzerland: First Approaches on an Implementation of Courses with a Gap-Mending Approach. In E. Chiapparini (Hrsg.), The Service User as a Partner in Social Work Projects and Education. Concepts and Evaluations of Courses with a Gap-Mending Approach in Europe (S. 136–145). Opladen, Berlin & Toronto: Budrich.
Chiapparini, E. (2016). Service User Involvement – Social Work Projects and Education with Gap-Mending Approach in Europe. Overview of the Theoretical Background and of the Evaluation. In E. Chiapparini (Hrsg.), The Service User as a Partner in Social Work Projects and Education. Concepts and Evaluations of Courses with a Gap-Mending Approach in Europe (S. 25–36). Opladen, Berlin & Toronto: Budrich.
Chiapparini, E. (2016). Conclusion: Empowering Service Users and Innovative Learning Settings with Long-Term Effects. In E. Chiapparini (Hrsg.), The Service User as a Partner in Social Work Projects and Education. Concepts and Evaluations of Courses with a Gap-Mending Approach in Europe (S. 133–140). Opladen, Berlin & Toronto: Budrich.
Bachelorstudium in Sozialer Arbeit (2015): Studienführer [study guide]: https://www.zhaw.ch/storage/shared/sozialearbeit/Studium/Bachelor/ZHAW-Soziale-Arbeit-Bachelor.pdf
Continuing education program for users of mental health services to qualify as teacher and recovery guide: http://docplayer.org/7842656-Ausbildungsprogramm-fuer-psychiatrie-erfahrene-zur-qualifizierung-als-ausbilder-und-als-genesungsbegleiter.html.
F.O.K.U.S.: [Continuing education program for users of mental health services to qualify as teacher and recovery guide]: http://docplayer.org/7842656-Ausbildungsprogramm-fuer-psychiatrie-erfahrene-zur-qualifizierung-als-ausbilder-und-als-genesungsbegleiter.html
Peer Plus: http://www.peerplus.ch/Joomla/
SASSA (Fachkonferenz der Fachbereiche Soziale Arbeit der Fachhochschulen der Schweiz) (2007). Master in Sozialer Arbeit. Rahmenkonzept [Master in Social Work. A frame concept]: http://www.sassa.ch/pdf/Rahmenkonzept%20SASSA%2007-05.pdf.
School of Social Work at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences: https://www.zhaw.ch/en/sozialearbeit/
Selbsthilfe Schweiz 2015: http://www.selbsthilfeschweiz.ch/shch/de/Ueber-uns/Downloads.html
[U25] (Peer education): http://www.u25-bern.ch/index.php/peer-ausbildung-bern
Institute of Childhood, Youth and Family
School of Social Work (ZHAW), Zurich)
Centre for Social Work Studies
School of Social Work (ZHAW), Zurich