The importance of being earnest: our experience of involving service users with complex needs in staff recruitment



Accessible summary

People with learning disabilities should be able to choose the staff who work with them. It is important that staff are chosen fairly and in a way that abides by the law. This article explains how we supported the people who use our services to help us employ an assistant psychologist.

We found that:

  • People with learning disabilities and other problems, like poor mental health, can also take part in choosing staff.
  • It is important to change how we do things so that it is easier for people with learning disabilities to take part.
  • Together we learnt that it is important to give people with learning disabilities time, so that they can do things at their own pace.
  • The staff and people with learning disabilities who participated in the interviews truly appreciated the experience.


This article describes our experience of involving people with learning disabilities and additional needs, such as behaviour that can be challenging or mental health conditions, in the recruitment of staff. A significant amount of support, as well as additional time and adaptations to the interviewing and scrutinising processes were necessary in order to ensure that service users could contribute meaningfully. However, the process was not only really valuable for users and staff alike but also, in our view, efficient in choosing a robust applicant.