The participation of adult service users, including older people, in developing social care
Practice - What not to do
The older people who are members of Exeter Senior Voice have prepared a 'Brief Guide to Total Failure or How to Make Sure that Marginalized People Stay Marginalized' aimed at all organisations that are reluctant to work towards meaningful participation.Unfortunately, there is only space here to include one or two examples for each point but, although the tone is light-hearted, the extracts give a sense of some of the practices that prevent participation from becoming meaningful. Their use of the pronoun 'they’ to refer to service users is deliberate.
Brief guide to total failure or how to make sure that marginalized people stay marginalized
Make sure they realise that this consultation is purely lip service.
- Ask people for their views when the decisions have already been made.
- After the first meeting, always send a deputy or better still your apologies.
Keep them guessing.
- Be vague about what might or might not happen as a result of the consultation.
- Management terms, jargon and abbreviations should be used throughout - the more the better.
Make it clear who is in control here - they must appreciate they are only here on sufferance.
- Never divulge how you will be using the information you get from them.
- Choose a venue with only two lavatories - on another floor.
Make people pay for the privilege of being consulted.
- Do not reimburse expenses, or if you really must, make them ask about it.
- Make them put in a travel claim through the usual system so they don’t get anything back for several weeks.
Keep it simple - you only have to be able to say you tried.
- Limit your consultation to one public meeting in the evening.
Remember the 'easy to reach’ are easier to reach.
- Exclude people who cannot complete your questionnaire.
- Only invite the 'usual suspects’ - they understand how meetings work.
Keep it bureaucratic (see Kafka for more tips).
- Make sure that every letter comes from a different person.
- Never give a contact number.
Bear in mind that these people are marginalized for a reason - they can’t speak for themselves.
- Never ask them what they prefer - they’ll only make unrealistic demands.
- Talk over their heads to their carer.