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

Practice example 7: Guildford Action

Characteristics of service users involved

Local voluntary organisation for people at risk of social exclusion living in Guildford (Surrey), with a particular focus on people living on a low income and people who have substance abuse problems.

How service user participation within the organisation is ensured

There are support workers who go out into the community and they have been very successful in encouraging service users to give opinions about the sort of support they want and need. Before new initiatives are developed, the support workers survey service users so that the service can be developed in consultation with them. Service users who are in recovery have been employed as paid workers.

What policies on service user participation has the organisation formulated?

This has mainly been through a requirement from some funders that only volunteers from among the service user clientele may be used within the service. The idea is to promote user participation in those particular services.

How are service users supported?

Service users have ongoing relationships with the individual workers assigned to work with them. There is no funding to pay service users to participate.

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

As a small organisation, there are no resources financially or in terms of staff time to pay for evaluating service user participation.

What makes organisations succeed in participation?

The only way to encourage people to participate is to have good relations with them in the first place, so there is already a level of trust. Once service users participate in any sort of management structure, then the relationship changes and both sides have to be prepared to deal with the difference in the dynamics.

Contact details

Sandra Curran Ludlow Road Resource Centre, Ludlow Road, Guildford, Surrey GU2 5NR 01483 533943