Showcasing: Experiences on the road to recovery – A reflective practice resource tool using the philosophy and practice of co-design and co-facilitation

Western NSW 

Lead agency
Mental Health and Drug and Alcohol Service, Western NSW LHD 

Living Well domain

  • Better Responses
  • Putting people first 
Consumer and Carers Action Group

Program Overview

‘Experiences on the road to recovery’ is a co-designed clinical practice tool for mental health clinicians that recognises people with lived experience of a mental health issue as the experts in their own mental health and the services they need. 

The reflective practice resource is a DVD designed to guide clinicians through reflective practice sessions co-facilitated by a clinician and a person with lived experience. The sessions address issues such as environment, communication, hope and power and provide clinicians with the opportunity to reflect on their own practice and identify how they can make changes going forward. Original funding of $2000 was provided through the House with No Steps to enable professional editing and payment of the lived experience co-designer in the making of the DVD. 


The project aim is to improve outcomes for people with lived experience of mental health issues by developing the understanding of recovery by the mental health workforce and creating a service that is committed to recovery-oriented practice. Through the provision of education that is co-designed and co-facilitated by a person with lived experience, participants can lead culture change and challenge traditional methods of service delivery (A National Framework for Recovery Oriented Mental Health Services – A Guide for Practitioners, 2013, p.7). 

Lived experience is at the heart of service provision and Western NSW Local Health District has been implementing a recovery model of care. Through this project, applying co-design and working with a person with lived experience, clinicians have become more self-reflective in their application of the recovery framework. This project is inspiring and provides a new approach to learning that emphasises the expertise and journey of people with lived experience. 


This project has been developed using a co-design methodology from the design of the resource through to the delivery of the reflective practice sessions. The video tool was co-produced by a person with lived experience who co-designed the script focussing on sharing their own recovery journey. 

This project is an example of clinicians planning and delivering a service in partnership with the person with lived experience. It embraces the NSW Health CORE values of collaboration, openness, respect and empowerment through enabling the person with lived experience to meaningfully engage in a project that is aimed at culture and practice change. 

The adoption of the recovery model in mental health services will enable clinicians to feel more confident to support shared decision making and to empower people to be more in control of their own care. Using a strengths-based and solution focused approach the guided reflection time during the sessions promotes a respectful acknowledgement of the skills, information and insights of the lived experience co-facilitator. This activity promotes collaboration between people with lived experience of mental health issues and other key groups within the local health district and builds capacity of all involved.  


Monthly reflective practice sessions have been delivered across Western NSW Local Health District using the tool since January 2019. Approximately 50 mental health clinicians across nursing, allied health and medical staff from community and inpatient mental health settings have participated.

The themes that have emerged from clinicians who have participated in the sessions include how to promote hope and identify the principles of recovery, identifying roles of clinicians within the recovery model and the importance of listening.
The project won the 2019 People’s Choice Award at the Western NSW LHD Living Quality and Safety Awards.

The key messages identified from the lived experience expert who co-designed the tool are:  

“Hope is very important, but it is only half the story in my book. In other words, you can’t survive just on hope, you run out of hope. You need a problem-solving ability”

“Practice solving problems and not escaping from them. Not going to the movies because you’ve got a problem or not going to a disco because you’ve got a problem” 

“It’s really nutting out on paper what the problem is even if it takes you 20 years to solve a problem. It’s much better that you did that than wasted your time and ended up with a worry you couldn’t solve”

Next Steps

The reflective practice sessions have continued in 2019. The vision is that this project will continue, and that Western NSW local health district will have the opportunity to expand the tool to more areas and design more DVD tools sharing more stories of recovery.