The participation of adult service users, including older people, in developing social care
Practice - Creative approaches to participation
- Involving service users is not always achieved through meetings or postal questionnaires. Using other approaches to participation is based upon the recognition that service user participation should allow different forms of expression (Barnes et al., 2006).
We have a storyteller in Lewisham…so where people are unlikely to relate to [an official strategy document]…by getting them to tell a story about their experiences as a tenant on a block, they may tell you very important things around a…number of issues like anti-social behaviour, or housing maintenance or asbestos removal or anything else. We managed to get funding to go out and talk to groups and reflect back to them what they had said, produce a resource pack. We use them at all our events when we feel we are getting stuck in the dogma or the detail. It’s a useful way of breaking things down for people, it provides a bit of light relief. We also use 'Playback Theatre’ or music or local musicians just to give people the experience of not being in a formal meeting, and getting them to communicate in different ways. So, we have used theatre and acting and mime as a way of communicating people’s experiences. (Manager, Community Empowerment Network)
See Practice Example on Lewisham Community Empowerment Network.
- Drama has also become an increasingly popular way for service users to express their views, such as through the Old Spice drama group, a group of older people based in Newcastle upon Tyne (Reed et al., 2004a) or by using sketches as a way of introducing important themes (Turner et al., 2003).
- Other options include participatory appraisal techniques first used in developing countries but increasingly used with marginalised communities in Europe and North America. Where they have lessons for social care is in their avoidance of the written word and use of creative approaches such as photography (Wang, 1999) or video (Lunch & Lunch, 2006).
- Examples such as providing disposable cameras to people with learning difficulties so that they could show what they thought about social and horticultural therapies (SHT) (Aldridge, 2007) or by helping people with dementia attending a drop in centre to take photographs so that they can record what was important to them (Mitchell, 2005).
- Technological advances have also supported more creative types of participation. For example, the Surrey 50 plus network allows people to respond to online surveys and take part in discussion boards.
- Another development that is likely to develop further is the use of game show technology as a way of giving instant feedback to people taking part in consultation events (Audit Commission, 2003).