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

Practice example 9: Help the Aged (Speaking Up for Our Age)

Characteristics of service users involved

Speaking Up for Our Age (SUFOA) is a programme run by the national voluntary organisation Help the Aged (HtA) which operates across the UK. Its purpose is to help to set up, and support, independent older people's forums which themselves enable the participation of older people in service planning and provision.

How service user participation within the organisation is ensured

Speaking Up for Our Age was set up with the help of a steering group that included older people from around the country and Help the Aged staff. Feedback from people involved in Older People's Forums is requested regularly about the service that is provided. A UK symposium was held to ask forum representatives about how they would like SUFOA to support them in future.

What policies on service user participation has the organisation formulated?

The policy covers:

How are service users supported?

The service to support forums includes:

The support offered to service users includes the following:

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

There have been two full evaluations of the programme.

What makes organisations succeed in participation?

The forums are run by older people for older people and are open to all older people in their areas.

Three important points to remember when asking people to participate are:

  1. Think about what you would want and expect if you were being asked to participate, and provide these things accordingly.
  2. Listen to what are participants are saying, change your service accordingly and feedback what has changed and why
  3. Saying thank you for people giving their time freely as participants, such as providing a nice lunch and sending thank you letters to show appreciation to each and every participant.

Contact details

Debbie Beale (Programme Manager) Speaking Up for Our Age, Help the Aged, 207-221 Pentonville Road, London N1 9UZ 01258 458406