In this Guest Blog, Joe Martin, a member of Revolving Doors’ National Service User Forum, talks about why service user involvement is so important, and what is needed to get it right. Joe contributed to the recent update of Clinks’ Guide to Service User Involvement, along with other Revolving Doors Agency staff and Forum members.
Working on the latest version of the Clinks guide to service user involvement was a very productive experience. It was a reminder of how much focus, work and commitment is required to get service user involvement right, and it served as a moment to pause and think how far we (service users and service providers) have come along the journey of coproducing solutions to some of the pressing problems in service delivery that face us all.
The guide is detailed, and has a step by step approach, which means that people accessing it as a resource can use as much or as little as they like, and go at their own pace through its steps.
Developing good service user involvement within a project requires thought, planning, implementation, evaluation, integration of learning and shifts in power and ownership; not an easy task when nobody is clear where we are going and what it might achieve! That’s why the guide is packed with tools and resources. I think it will reassure those starting out - and much as some people in the field think service user involvement is going on everywhere, my experience has been that for some organisations it remains a new and quite nervy experience, and is a bit of a risk. So it’s good to have a guide to refer to and use as inspiration, to know that there are other organisations that are doing it successfully and are ready to share their successes and how they have overcome the challenges.
It was great to be part of the team and to be part of driving the message that service user involvement is not only a good thing but vital! Being part of editing the Clinks guide has been interesting for me, and I will be even more pleased to see it being taken up and implemented in practice.