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Service user empowerment – by accident

by Mike McNabb

In the name of empowerment, service users are having a greater say in how and from whom they receive care.

Individual budgets, which give service users the freedom to hire – and fire – carers, are in theory a fine idea, as long as you have the capacity to interview and the stamina to sack someone who isn’t up to standard.

Now there are indications that this principle of empowerment could be extended to people with long-term medical conditions, such as multiple sclerosis, diabetes and motor neurone disease. The effect would be for patients to self-manage their condition and reduce the burden on the NHS.

The Expert Patients’ Programme, launched by the Department of Health in 2001, is the driver for self-directed support by people with some long-term conditions and acknowledges the convergence of health and social care issues. The EPP and the evaluation of the pilot phase is explained in greater detail by Alison Petch, director of Research in Practice for Adults.

Worryingly, the evaluation suggests more needs to be done before such a system is rolled out.

It was found that, although the number of overnight hospital stays was reduced, there was in fact no overall change in the use of health services.

The self-care training that patients underwent as part of the programme brought confirmation of their established strategies but failed to provide new ones.

And there was a failure to attract people assessed as being in hard-to-reach groups.

It all seems a tad negative. To use advertising speak: EPP needs a USP, a unique selling point.

Yet it might have one thus far unrealised: all these service users gathering together for training could prove the basis for a user movement.

Perhaps by accident the EPP really could empower service users.

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One Response to Service user empowerment – by accident

  1. Sonya Grande 11 April , 2013 at 11:34 pm #

    There is the social model of disability that people are not ill because they have been disabled by a genetic gene, or accident or the like they are not in need of constant medical care and as such have the same rights to decide who to employ and be employers, to get the right or wrong people as with any sort of employment you do not know until they start what a person is going to be like.

    The NHS and medical treatment is most definately seperate from the above and as such should be treated that way. When a person is ill they are ill they go to a doctor or the hopsital and just because someone is disabled it does not meant that they are in constant need of medical care.

    If people continue to have biased opinions about this and lump medical and social together what chance do we have of changing the system and peoples mind sets, it is disabling opinions and actions that cause the person to be disabled.

    Each person based on there own circumstances and what they feel mets there criteria should have the right to decide who they employ when and how, they should also have the choice of were they live and what they do with their life.

    It is not down to us to make judgements about a persons capability, it is down to them, like everyone else, freedom of choice and control over their own life.

    Its time disabling attitudes stopped and a persons worth was recognised.
    Its time professionals started listening and hearing what they are being told.

    People do not require carers they require assistance to live their life in the way they wish to do it.

    Sonya