The participation of adult service users, including older people, in developing social care
Culture - Developing a culture of participation
Managers can't just decide on a policy and implement it like any other. It is a hearts and minds thing and needs a culture change, so there needs to be a lead from the top, lots of training for staff and lots of independent support and training for the service users. (Manager)
Although different types of organisation have different cultures of participation and what may work for one organisation may not be right for another (Kirby et al., 2003a), there is still considerable agreement about some of the changes that any organisation will need to make to improve the culture of participation. These extend through the organisation and include formal and informal systems.
Leadership from the top
- The commitment of senior management is a key reason why organisations succeed in participation, especially in statutory organisations, which may have a number of different priorities. See Practice Examples for Bradford Metropolitan District Council and Southern Health and Social Services Board.
Champions within the organisation
- Champions within an organisation help promote good practice and encourage others to change their ways of working (Townsley et al., 2002).
See Practice Example for The Cedar Foundation.
Support and training for staff
I think all organisations, certainly those that work in the care sector should have on going disability equality training, not awareness training, and delivered by suitably experienced and qualified disabled people. (Service user)
- Recognition of service users’ expertise has led to the increasing use of service users as consultants and trainers in education and training. One study found that 69 per cent of a sample of 318 mental health service users and survivor groups reported that they were involved in this type of work (Wallcraft et al., 2003).
- Professional education programmes such as social work increasingly involve service users in delivering parts of curriculum.For example, the Department of Health Requirements for Social Work Training (2002) calls for service users and carers to be involved in all stages of the degree, from recruitment and selection, through to teaching and learning provision and preparing for practice learning, and this development has been well received by social work students themselves (Waterson & Morris, 2005), as well as contributing to improved social work practice (Beresford, 2004; Tew, 2006).
Using formal and informal arrangements
In addition to formal systems for consultation and involvement, organisations need to find informal ways of helping service users to participate. This reflects the reality that different people wish to participate in different ways and ensures that those who do not wish to participate in formal systems are able to make their views heard.
See Practice Examples for Guildford Action.