Untangling the web of service user involvement in social services work
These comments were voiced by three young people involved as service user representatives in a voluntary sector residential and ‘through care’ project for children and young people in Scotland. This seems to be an obvious statement of fact, that qualified social workers have less time, but it is also a statement of a sense of betrayal of trust and feeling used. How can social workers best support service users, such as these young people to be involved in the design and development of services which are relevant to their individual and collective needs? This is a potentially confusing and complex area of professional practice – scattered with different perspectives, types of involvement at individual, agency and national levels, employed by a variety of professionals and service user organizations. This chapter attempts to untangle the web of approaches and levels of user involvement and suggests a set of skills and capabilities required for effective involvement which goes beyond stated good intentions. Although set in a Scottish context, this chapter is intended to speak to newly qualified professionals involved across the spectrum of care in the UK and the wider European context whilst acknowledging the diversity of cultural traditions and influences on this work.