The participation of adult service users, including older people, in developing social care
Structure - Technical barriers
Lack of local British Sign Language (BSL) signers [is a problem]. Lack of notice of meetings makes it difficult to make proper arrangements, for example book signers. (Service user)
Always check that electronic equipment such as hearing loops work because they often do not.
PowerPoint and overhead projections and everything is not accessible to me and if you raise a question about it you are often made to feel that you are a nuisance. (Service user)
- Technical or practical barriers may include the shortage of workers with experience in participatory work, the lack of accessible formats and technological support for groups such as disabled people to enable them to participate effectively, and the pressures on voluntary and community organisations to respond to official agendas rather than their own (Beresford & Hoban, 2005). This last dilemma may actually have increased as government policies have encouraged them to move from a traditional 'outsider’ role to become 'insiders’ (Craig et al., 2004).
Ways of attempting to overcome these barriers include:
- Helping practitioners to build better relationships with individual service users and local communities.
See Practice Example for Lewisham Community Empowerment Network.
- Increasing the numbers of workers with direct experience of being a service user.
See Practice Example for Swansea Directorate of Social Services and Housing.
- Making sure that materials are accessible either by using non-technical or 'Easy Read’ summaries and providing materials in different formats such as large print or Braille.
- Establishing a named 'link’ person within an organisation with a liaison role between service users and the organisation. This can help to reduce the problems that can occur with personnel changes or restructuring.