We believe that for our services to be of any value, they need to be driven by the diverse needs of our service users. Service user involvement is a key tool in ensuring that services are accessible, relevant and effective.
We recognise the countless mutual benefits to consulting with and involving service users in the planning, delivery and evaluation of our service provision, including empowerment, a sense of ownership and trust, and services that genuinely respond to the needs of service users.
Throughout the year, our services hold events called ROAD where service users and staff evaluate the service together, enabling the joint design and development of our services. All service users and peer mentors are invited to attend and are asked for their views on a number of topics, including what they think their service is doing well, what it could do better, and if they have any ideas for its development.
ROAD enables the views of those with lived experience to have a direct influence on the design and actual delivery of the service, as the action plans that come out of the events are reviewed and monitored by our management team to ensure they are being implemented.
An example of how ROAD directly influences service delivery: At a ROAD event in our Sandwell service, service users suggested involving families more by holding open days for families, friends and carers where they could hear inspiring success stories and learn about how they can support their loved ones. This was introduced and continues to be a popular day with all involved.
The NSUF provides an opportunity for representatives from each of our services to network, share ideas, and learn from each other. It provides a key route for us to involve service users in the development of our organisation as a whole, and enables those with lived experience to continually monitor our services and to help spread best practice.
Our service users do this in lots of different ways, including inputting into policies, auditing our services (including mysteryÂ shopper audits!), being involved in the recruitment and selection of staff, attending conferences, inputting into tenders for new business, and much more.
“Our service usersâ experiences tell us how well we are doing as an organisation and if/where improvements are needed, so itâs our responsibility to actively seek out and evidence service user feedback. I travel around our services and work alongside service users, service user representatives, their leads and service managers, guiding and supporting our services to do this effectively.
I also chair Cranstounâs NSUF and work closely with service user development managers who represent feedback from the Forum at Governance Group and senior management meetings.
Iâm proud to be part of an organisation that recognises the value of the service user voice and acknowledges it as being vital to help develop our services. Service user involvement makes it possible for our service users to move on and become productive members of society, enjoying safe, fulfilling lives.“