Have your say

This week’s Have your say focuses on home care services
and whether they can replace care homes. Do you think the
government’s home care policies will work?

Have your say by clicking
before March 12. All the responses will appear
here on March 15.


These are the responses we received to the discussion on
children or other service users being involved in the selection
process of senior managers:

In Somerset, we support adults who have
learning difficulties participating in the selection of staff
including senior managers. So far this has worked extremely well
with service users playing a key role in interview processes.
Interestingly on most occasions the service user panel hold very
similar views about candidates as the management interview panel,
usually for different reasons, but the outcomes are usually the
same. We are currently looking at useful strategies when the two
panels disagree.

Mary-Ellen Boyle

Advocacy Manager

Somerset Advocacy

There’s no doubt that the involvement of
patients with the design and delivery of services has had a major
impact on the way that those services are delivered. This is
particularly true in the HIV sector, where patients have long been
associated with advocating and lobbying for better understanding,
treatment and care. The question of whether service users should be
involved in the recruitment of senior managers is a vexed one. It
is vital that services are informed by the needs of the people who
use them, and this is a model that Terrence Higgins Trust and
Lighthouse has always advocated. For example, our expert reference
groups, through which all our policies and developments pass on
their way to adoption, are made up of people living with HIV. But
it must be a prerequisite that any person who is responsible for
making decisions relating to an appointment, be they staff,
trustees or unpaid representatives, must know and understand all of
what is required of that job and the personal qualities required to
fulfil it.

There are other, more appropriate ways, to ensure that services
reflect the needs of the end user than inviting a person who is
potentially unable to make a decision on a candidate’s wider
capabilities to undertake an interview. To do so merely to have a
service user on the panel reeks of tokenism at its worse, rather
than meaningful involvement at its best.”

Andrew Ridley

Executive Director of Operations

Terrence Higgins Trust

There are lots of professional interviewees in
the world, but children and young people are less easily fooled! As
a development manager for children and young people’s involvement
in governance of the Children’s Society I have first-hand
experience of being part of a process where children and young
people not only subjected me to a group-work exercise, presentation
and interview, but also were involved in devising the job
description, person specification and in short-listing candidates
(I also had to eat my lunch with them. …not an easy task when
your nerves are jangling!!)

I can honestly say however that this process was by far the most
thorough, gruelling yet enjoyable selection process I have been
involved in. It allowed me to be myself and enabled the children
and young people to explore who I really was in conjunction with a
trustee and the appointing manager on an equal basis. Building on
that process and practice across the organisation (where there is a
history of involving children and young people within recruitment
and selection) we have now reached a stage where there is a
commitment to involving children and young people in recruitment
and selection processes for all senior management team posts. The
director for the children and young people’s division and the newly
appointed chief executive are recent examples of where this has
happened, and where lines of accountability for performance are
clearly tied into children and young people’s priorities and

Not only does children and young people’s involvement in
recruitment and selection processes signify a major step forward in
enabling children’s rights (Article 12) it also demonstrates an
organisation’s and individual’s commitment to inclusive and
participatory practice (candidates have been involved at weekends
in group work and interviews with children and young people, which
is a strong message from the organisation, both in terms of
expectations of working alongside children and young people and the
practical steps that entails.) I am convinced that the
participation of children and young people within recruitment and
selection leads to a more successful outcome. Of particular
significance within such processes has been, in our experience, the
use of group work exercises which actually demonstrate practice and
the ability of candidates to work in inclusive ways, respecting and
understanding individual identities. It is this element that is so
often missing from other selection methods.

As outlined in the recent article in Community Care, at
the end of the day, children and young people act in an advisory
capacity in the final decision-making. Whether the appointing
manager acts upon children and young people’s advice may depend
upon their integrity (valuing their advice and opinions as
competent and of equal value and worth), awareness (of issues that
are important to children and young people as individuals with
individual identities), understanding (of participative processes)
and capacity (to act upon the advice given.) For children and young
people the process of making a decision and the rationale behind
that, is often of equal value to the outcome. We need to ensure
that they are involved in processing the rationale for our
decision-making as well its evaluation. After all the impact of our
decisions affects children and young people more than anyone

T. Brocklehurst

Development Manager

Children and Young People’s Participation Initiative

The Children’s Society

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