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

Practice example 6: Exeter Senior Voice (Age Concern Exeter)

Characteristics of service users involved

Local voluntary organisation for older people living in Exeter. Membership has always been targeted at older people who are frail and seldom heard or who have a long-term illness or disability.

How service user participation within the organisation is ensured

Older people can participate through Senior Voice in three different ways:

  1. Through becoming a member. When they become a member, people sign up to completing a questionnaire four times a year covering up to three topics. While about 75 per cent are sent out by post, the rest involve volunteers assisting in the filling out of the questionnaires.
  2. Through becoming a member of the panel. In the past, panel members were selected by the co-ordinator but now they are elected. The panel meets monthly and is a consultation mechanism. The panel plays a part in deciding on our campaigning issues.
  3. By attending an annual conference jointly organised by social services, the Primary Care Trust, the City Council and Senior Voice.

Focus groups are also organised on issues brought to Senior Voice by other organisations, and participants are targeted using a database of members’ information.

What policies on service user participation has the organisation formulated?

There are no formal policies on user participation.

How are service users supported?

All expenses are paid and transport is arranged, including wheelchair accessible transport. For focus groups, transport is arranged door-to-door, and refreshments.

Agendas for outside meetings are received in advance so that issues can be talked about beforehand and delegates are briefed appropriately.

How are the effects of participation monitored, audited, and evaluated?

There is no formal evaluation.

Contact details

Cathy Pelikan Exeter Senior Voice, c/o Age Concern Exeter, 138 Cowick Street, Exeter, Devon, EX4 1HS 01392 202092