The participation of adult service users, including older people, in developing social care

SCIE Guide 17

Published June 2007

About this guide

Introduction

The right of participation in decision-making in social, economic, cultural and political life should be included in the nexus of basic human rights. (Lister, 1998, p228)

Service users now play an increasingly important role in efforts to improve social care services. This guide focuses on how practitioners and managers can initiate and sustain the participation of adult service users, including older people, in ways that empower service users and reflect a shared commitment to developing social care services in a more democratic way.

Whole systems approaches have become a popular way of thinking about the steps that organisations need to take in order to achieve change. Taking a lead from the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) guide on the participation of children and young people in developing social care (Wright et al., 2006), we propose that organisations adopt a whole systems approach to developing participation. This involves looking at organisations as a jigsaw consisting of four pieces:

These are:

Graphic showing the Jigsaw model for adopting a whole systems approach to participation. The jigsaw consists of four interlocking pieces: 1) Culture - the ethos of an organisation, shared by all staff and service users which demonstrates a commitment to participation; 2) Structure - the planning, development and resourcing of participation evident in an organisation's infrastructure; 3) Practice - the ways of working, methods for involvement, skills and knowledge which enable young people to become involved; and 4) Review - the monitoring and evaluation systems which enable an organisation to evidence change affected by participation.

Each piece of the jigsaw has its own section in the guide. The sections summarise some of the main findings from research, include messages from practice and from people using services, and give details of some of the resources about participation that are available. Each section begins with a set of action points based upon the experiences of people using services.

Aim of the guide

This guide focuses on how practitioners and managers in social care can initiate and sustain the participation of adult service users, including older people, in developing social care.

Although it has been designed mainly for practitioners and managers in social care, we hope that the guide will be useful to everyone involved in promoting service user participation, including people using services and family carers.

Why the guide was compiled

The last decade has seen an increasing recognition and acceptance of the right of service users to participate in developing social care, especially given the new responsibilities that key government legislative and policy initiatives have placed on organisations to consult with service users. As a result, service users are being asked more and more to take part in the planning, provision, and evaluation of services. This has created increased interest in what works in participation and why. The guide offers social care organisations a framework for systematically examining how they are supporting service users to participate in the design, delivery, and review of social care services.

How the guide was compiled

To develop the guide, the project team reviewed the literature and policy documents, undertook a practice survey to identify examples of current and emerging practice, and consulted with service users.

The guide draws on the following types of social care knowledge:

Approval for the project was sought from the Association of Directors of Social Services (ADSS) and advice was sought on whether the project needed ethical approval, which it did not.

See also the Methodology Section.

Downloads

All SCIE resources are free to download, however to access the following downloads you will need a free MySCIE account:

Available downloads:

  • The participation of adult service users, including older people, in developing social care
  • The participation of adult service users, including older people, in developing social care - summary
  • The participation of adult service users, including older people, in developing social care - Welsh summary