Research abstracts: participating in service development

Author: Jan Reed, Glenda Cook
Title: Meaningful and effective involvement of older people: a guide for care, health and housing agencies
Reference: Counsel and Care, 2007

This publication gives guidance to professionals about how to involve older people in the development of services. Organisations should adhere to good practice on intention, inclusion, information, infrastructure, integration, influence and the impact of decisions in order to create ways to involve older people in debates and decisions about the way services are developed. Discussions with older people have revealed that they feel a need to be involved and, importantly, to make a difference – these guidelines are designed to help this happen. Older people feel that councils and providers make decisions without consulting them and therefore miss out on the expertise and experience they can provide. This will go some way towards both helping older people feel their opinions are being listened to as well as helping organisations benefit from their expertise.

Author: Maria Lorentzon, Karen Bryan
Title: Respect for the person with dementia: fostering greater user involvement in service planning.
Reference: Quality in Ageing, 8(1), March 2007, pp23-29

Respect for people with dementia and their involvement in service planning is explored, based on selected research publications and policy papers, mainly from the Department of Health and the Alzheimer’s Society. This article supports the inclusion of people with dementia care in service planning as part of person-centred care. Adjustments to research methods and ethics committee procedures for gaining informed consent are discussed, as is the importance of ethical policy formation and implementation in order to achieve person-centred care. This will ensure a high degree of involvement by people with dementia, enhancing self-respect and responding to the needs of this often marginalised population.

Author: Sarah Carr
Title: Participation, power, conflict and change: theorizing dynamics of service user participation in the social care system of England and Wales
Reference: Critical Social Policy, 27(2), May 2007, pp266-267

Drawing on the findings of a major review on service user participation in the social care system of England and Wales, this paper explores some of the challenging dynamics that are emerging as service users begin to take up strategic power in social care organisations. Analysis of the current situation suggests that such participation is challenging the very fabric of the institutions in which it is taking place, exposing problems with the political, strategic and structural elements of established non-user organisations. On many levels traditional power relations are being unsettled. The conceptual clash between citizenship and consumerism is being exposed as participation becomes more widespread and sites of resistance are revealed. The associated issues of power, conflict and democracy are discussed with reference to the work of the political philosopher Chantal Mouffe.

Author: Colin Barnes, Geof Mercer
Title: Independent futures: creating user-led disability services in a disabling society
Publisher: Policy Press, 2006

The number of disability-related support services controlled and run by disabled people themselves has increased significantly in the UK and internationally over the past 40 years. As a result, greater user involvement in service provision and delivery is a key priority for many western governments. This book provides the first comprehensive review and analysis of these developments in the UK. Drawing on evidence from sources including the first national study of user-controlled services, this book provides a critical evaluation of the development and organisation of user-controlled services in the UK identifies the principal forces – economic, political and cultural – that influence and inhibit their further development summarises and discusses the policy implications for the development of services and includes an up-to-date and comprehensive literature and research review.

Author: Les Bright 
Title: Having a voice, being heard.
Reference: Working with Older People, 10(4), December 2006, pp24-26.

Exeter Senior Voice, a user involvement project with nearly 300 active members, ran an election for the 12 places on its panel of representatives. The representatives attend a range of meetings with staff of statutory and voluntary bodies discussing service development and mapping out strategies to respond to older people’s needs. The author reports on the high turnout for the election and why these groups are so important to ensuring older people’s voices are heard on local issues.

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