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  F.A.Q's

What is service user involvement?
What is peer reviewing?
What sort of questions do peer reviewers ask?
What skills and training do peer reviewers need?
How can we involve service users?
What are the barriers to meaningful service user involvement?
What ways are there for consulting with service users?
How do you set up a service user group?
How do you reimburse service user expenses?
How frequently should we meet with service users?
What format should meetings with service users take?
Are accreditation qualifications available for service users?
Do you have a service user strategy or service user plan?
How do you access 'hard to reach' service users to get them involved?
What are the costs involved in running a service user group meeting?
 
  F.A.Q's  
 
 
What is service user involvement?

Service user involvement is basically about making sure that the voices of the people who use the services provided have the opportunity to voice their opinions about the services they receive and the chance to make real, sustainable change to those services.

For more information click here

What is peer reviewing?

Peer reviewing involves current and past service users being trained to undertake service review visits and interview other service users and members of staff. They then report their findings back to Supporting People teams so that improvement can be made.

Find out more in our peer reviewing section.

What sort of questions do peer reviewers ask?

Because peer reviewers have experience of the services on offer, they often notice issues relating to the services they are reviewing that can be overlooked by Supporting People teams.

They can then ask questions from a perspective of experience and often receive answers that users wouldn’t give to Supporting people staff.

What skills and training do peer reviewers need?

Peer reviewers need to have good people skills, be good listeners and have an ability to report back any information gathered so that it can be used in a meaningful way.

Training often consists of developing skills such as interviewing techniques, report writing, reading and writing and dealing with people from a variety of backgrounds.

How can we involve service users?

There is no one suitable way to do this as different people and groups all have different needs, which need to be taken into account.

Start by asking your service users how they want to be involved, how they want to be consulted and where and when the consultation should take place.

You can then look through our best practice examples to give you some ideas of techniques to try.

What are the barriers to meaningful service user involvement?

The barriers to really meaningful service user involvement all depend on where you are up to in your programme and how serious you are about making it happen.

Take a look at our barriers checklist to see how prepared you really are.

What ways are there for consulting with service users?

There are many different ways for consulting with service users – from creative arts workshops to formal meetings and conferences.

What works for one group of people may not work for another, so take a look at our section on how to get service users involved for more ideas.

How do you set up a service user group?

Service user groups need to be flexible to meet the needs of the people attending them and be safe places where they will come and share their thoughts.

Incentives should be offered to encourage attendance and you should be able to demonstrate that changes are being made as a result of the group’s work.

Click here to read about some examples of service user groups that have been set up.

How do you reimburse service user expenses?

Reward or reimbursement for service users’ time, work and effort can be given in a number of ways, such as vouchers, direct payment or access to training and qualifications.

The important thing is that the reward is based on what the service users actually want. The reward and recognition section gives you some examples of reward schemes currently in place.

How frequently should we meet with service users?

This should be dictated by how often service users actually want to meet. Everything you do, including deciding on how often you meet, should be decided by consultation with service users.

Some will want to meet more often than others, so take into account their needs and arrange your consultation around that.

What format should meetings with service users take?

Again, this should be decided after consulting with users and asking them what they actually want.

Always consider the group you are working with and try to fit your ideas around their needs – a reminiscence workshop might work well with a group of people over sixty, but they probably won’t enjoy a rap session!

Find out more about creative consultation techniques here.

Are accreditation qualifications available for service users?

By building in a training element to your service user involvement programme you can not only help to change your services for the better, but also change the lives of the people taking part in the engagement work.

Helping them to gain qualifications increases their confidence and gives them valuable skills and experience, which, in turn, can improve their employment options.

Find out more about West London’s service user involvement training programme here.

Do you have a service user strategy or service user plan?

Bolton Council, Regional Champions for service user involvement, developed a service user involvement plan in conjunction with their community experts panel and user advocates.

A copy is available to download here.

How do you access ‘hard to reach’ service users to get them involved?

By the very nature of the Supporting People programme, many of the service users you need to consult with are what might be considered ‘hard to reach’.

Take a look through the examples in our How to get service users involved section to give you some ideas of how best to reach these people or groups.

What are the costs involved in running a service user group meeting?
Below you will find estimated costs of running a service user group meeting for approximately 25 people (20 delegates with facilitators):

 

Est. cost per head

Total est. cost

Meeting venue

 

£100.00

Refreshments (morning & afternoon)

£2.00

£100.00

Buffet lunch

£5.00

£125.00

Gift vouchers to reward service users

£10.00

£200.00

Service users travel expenses

£2.50

£50.00

Service user advocate (est charge per day)

 

£300.00

Total

 

£875.00

(Costs as at April 2008)
 
Below are estimated costs of two days’ peer review training for 10 service users (plus trainer and facilitator):

 

Est. cost per head

Total est. cost

Meeting venue

 

£200.00

Refreshments (morning & afternoon)

£2.00

£96.00

Buffet lunch

£5.00

£120.00

Gift vouchers to reward service users

£10.00

200.00

Service users travel expenses

£2.50

£50.00

Service user trainers (est charge per day £300)

 

£600.00

Total

 

£1266.00

(Costs as at April 2008)
 
Other things to consider when setting up and running meetings:

Staff time – although not charged as a cost to the meeting this does need to be considered. The estimated cost of 1 member of staff per day is approximately £75.

Frequency of meetings – Need a balance to keep service users interested and still be of value.

Equipment required – this can include:
Flip Chart and pens
Overhead projector
PowerPoint presentation equipment
Blue tac
Extra paper and pens for notes

How the meeting will be documented – notes, photographer, graphic illustrator, filming.

Other time required before meetings to plan and prepare the content.

 

Plan a start and finishing time and inform service users of timings

Refreshment breaks

General rest times – these should be natural breaks in the programme so as not to stop the flow. Make space for people to leave early if they have a limited concentration span

Check that your venue has disabled facilities i.e. loop system; wheelchair access; disabled toilets etc. Check for smoking facilities

Make sure your venue can accommodate all your programme requirements

Make sure you are aware of the fire exits; toilets etc, as you are required to inform your participants at the beginning of the meeting

Organise refreshments and food, taking into account the dietary needs of individuals and ethnic groups. You will need to check with ethnic minority groups regarding their dietary needs as some are vegetarians, vegans and some meat eaters will only eat Halal meat. It can be helpful to send a copy of your programme to the caterers so they know when your planned breaks are.


 

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