Agency systems fail to help

Current agency systems are failing to empower service users,
Peter Beresford told the seminar.

Beresford, from the Open Services Project, and a member of the
Department of Health’s national users and carers group, said users
were being encourged to get involved in committees, forums, groups
and structures by agencies to provide comment.

‘I do not want to dismiss these initiatives but many service
users’ experience is that this is often difficult, demanding and
has very limited effectiveness,’ he said.

Existing consultative arrangements seemed to have a near
infinite capacity to subvert the real needs of service users, he
said. There was a growing reluctance to take up the offers to
become involved. Beresford outlined a five-point plan on how to
empower service users:

* support for personal development;

* support for skills development;

* practical support – information, child care, transport;

* equal opportunities; and

* support for people to group.Beresford: Support

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