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

Culture - Changing power relations

You find that there is a lot of time given over to what people in authority want, not what we want, so our wishes don’t get discussed.

Service user

One of the main ways in which participation has been used to achieve cultural changes at the head of an organisation has been through the appointment of service users and service user representatives onto Boards of Trustees or management committees.

It may also involve identifying whether existing systems are failing to meet the needs of some groups. For example, the Alzheimer’s Society has introduced an inclusion policy aimed at ensuring that people with dementia, or groups of people with dementia, such as Black and minority ethnic people or lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) people with dementia, and their carers are more fully involved in all aspects of the Society’s work.

See Practice Example for the Alzheimer’s Society.

In terms of the relationship that organisations have with individual service users or groups, some organisations have arranged formal systems for service users to take decisions, for example through individual and group meetings.

Others employ people who have had experience of being a service user.

However, where service users have been supported to become paid workers in the same organisation in which they were previously service users, it is important to recognise that adjustments in relationships between the two may need to be made.

See Practice Example for Guildford Action.