Issues Involving Service Users to Shape Services

Involving the service user in shaping services continues to be an important activity within government policy. Drawing from the K303 materials, critically discuss the issues, challenges and benefits in involving the service user to shape and develop services.

In order to answer the above question, this essay will first introduce why it is important to involve service users in shaping services within government policy.   It will then go on to discuss the issues, challenges and also the benefits of involving service users to shape and develop services and critically analyse these issues.

The emergence of the service user movement over the past 20-30 years has been one of the most important developments affecting social care policy. Up until this point, social care provision was largely shaped by politicians, managers, academics, planners and practitioners, with service users and citizens generally having little or no say (Beresford, 2001).   However, there is now a substantial body of evidence to show that service users particularly value provision in which they have an effective say and control (The Managing Care Reader, p21). There are two approaches that could be taken to help achieve this.   These are the consumer/managerialist and democratic approaches.   The main aim of consumer/managerialist approach is to improve the efficiency, economy and effectiveness of services by drawing on the ideas and experiences of service users to improve management and decision making (Leggett et al, 1999). However, this approach does appear to have its limits and seems to be merely concerned with collecting data rather than acting on the actual findings.

The democratic approach on the other hand is more concerned with people’s rights and entitlements and achieving direct change to people’s lives, as well as individual action by enabling people to have more say over what happens to them (Priestly,1999).

Consultation and involvement with service users is a key component of...