The participation of adult service users, including older people, in developing social care
Structure - Economic and cultural barriers
Economic and cultural barriers
Broader issues, such as working in areas where poverty and deprivation have hindered the development of a thriving voluntary and community sector, a lack of trust between organisations and service users, and consultation fatigue can all act as barriers to participation (Beresford & Hoban, 2005).
- Research has pointed to the role here for professionals to act as mediators between organisations and the wider 'public’ of potential participants; supporting people to take part in developments that involve and empower them (Barnes et al., 2003; Postle & Beresford, 2007; Postle et al., 2005).
- We found that it was more likely to be service users or user-controlled organisations that were more conscious of the need to overcome economic and cultural barriers. They were also more likely to set participation within a broader citizen rights or social exclusion context.
I think the greatest changes are when you go to meetings which are not for [service users]. I think that is where we can influence the political agenda and we are not doing it under the banner of disabled people, maybe under equality or regeneration. (Service user)
See Practice Example for The Omnibus Partnership.
- In some areas, the establishment of Community Empowerment Networks, which bring community and voluntary sector groups together in deprived communities and enable them to influence and shape decisions of public sector bodies in Local Strategic Partnerships, has been one way of trying to achieve greater local involvement in strategic decision-making, but progress in this area has been uneven and there are concerns about future funding (National Audit Office, 2004; Taylor et al., 2005).
- Small community organisations are often grounded in their locality and have developed systems for consulting more widely within their communities.
- National membership organisations provide an important role in providing information, campaigning on behalf of their members, and in co-ordinating responses to national or local plans.
- Membership organisations can be important intermediaries between statutory organisations and service users. Many voluntary and community sector groups have good links across organisations, credibility, and experience. They are often the recognised channels for consultation, particularly in processes such as audit and inspection. This is because service users generally respond better to requests from those they trust than, for example to general posters or other types of publicity (Simmons & Birchall, 2005).
- Black voluntary and community organisations which, despite funding problems, have been one of the main resources for capacity building, civic engagement and social inclusion of Black and minority ethnic communities (Butt, 2005; Chouhan & Lusane, 2004).