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

Practice example 15: Rochdale Metropolitan Borough

Characteristics of service users involved

Statutory local government agency for all people aged 60 and over living in Rochdale.

How service user participation within the organisation is ensured

Older people participate in service planning and development on a number of different levels.

  1. There is a long established Service User and Carer Action Forum which meets monthly in which Pensioner Associations across the borough are represented. This group was involved in the development of the borough strategy for older people and is also involved in the review of progress of its implementation. The Forum also meets with officers, practitioners, and senior managers at an annual workshop to discuss issues of current concern.
  2. The Forum is represented on the Local Implementation Team of the National Service Framework for Older People, and in the specific multi-agency service development subgroups, such as Stroke, Falls, and Older People’s Mental Health.
  3. Rochdale has piloted a number of initiatives to test out different ways of involving seldom heard older people, such as:
    • the 'Have Your Say’ project, which trained up frontline home care workers in listening and communication skills to get feedback from service users who are isolated at home;
    • older people and carers providing age awareness training to staff in nursing homes.

What policies on service user participation has the organisation formulated?

A strategy and good practice guide for involvement and consultation in community care services was produced in 2004.

How are service users supported?

The Service User Carer Action Forum is supported financially, covering the cost of meetings, hire of rooms, administration, and travel expenses. A named involvement officer from the council’s Adult Care Services provides advisory support to the Forum to ensure older people’s involvement is both effective and meaningful.

In addition, older people involved in service development groups have made recommendations on practical ways of supporting involvement in meetings. These are being implemented, and include, for example members’ information packs, named involvement champions and pre-meeting briefings.

How are the effects of participation monitored, audited, and evaluated?

These are monitored by the Action Forum itself. There are systems and processes for feeding back the outcomes of consultation and involvement. Senior managers are invited to attend the monthly Forum to give regular updates on performance.

What makes organisations succeed in participation?

By developing a culture of involvement throughout the organisation and through an 'open ear’ policy which empowers frontline staff to engage with service users as part of the involvement process, so that it becomes 'everybody’s business’.

Contact details

Rowena Vickridge Adults and Older People, Rochdale MBC, 3rd Floor, Telegraph House, Baillie Street, Rochdale, OL16 1LJ 01706 925383