Asking delegates from all over the country for a picture of service user involvement brought forth some distressing stories of groups being dissolved, dysfunctional partnerships – and frustratingly, fear of talking about the situation against a backdrop of threatened redundancies. Here members of the Nottingham team tell us about a system they believe is working well. We’re relying on you to let us know what’s happening in your area.
Lee Collingham, service user activist and advocate:
Nottingham city has that rare commodity so often missing these days within local drug commissioning teams – a full-time user involvement worker. Over the last decade these roles have gradually disappeared around the country despite, as is shown by the Nottingham model, user involvement being integral to successful drug and alcohol treatment – be it with an individual’s care plan or the planning of what services need to provide, as well as assisting in delivering those specialist services.
Even companies like Tesco and Facebook talk and work with their customers, something that seems to have been lost in most areas within drug treatment in the light of funding cuts, localisation, and the demise of specialist commissioning teams and the NTA.
By working closely with service users, both providers and commissioners can better shape services to meet local needs and achieve successful outcomes.
Glen Jarvis, service user involvement officer, Nottingham City Council Crime and Drugs Partnership:
The Crime and Drugs Partnership (CDP) has a long-standing commitment to involvement and consultation going back more than ten years. At that time the partnership commissioned mostly treatment services, with NHS funding, so our involvement and consultation structures were built upon guidance and duties around health-related legislation and the NHS constitution.
Service user and carer involvement is embedded within treatment and support services. We expect that service users are listened to, involved and consulted on decisions about their treatment and support, and ensure that both they and carers are involved in the planning, development and delivery of services.
This commitment is to give opportunities for our service users and carers to be involved at all levels.
At an individual level, we want service users to be actively involved in their own treatment and support, specifically through their relationship with workers in devising care/support plans.
At a service level, they should be consulted and involved in the decisions about the running of those services. Meaningful involvement is a contractual obligation and services should be able to give evidence of measures they have used to obtain the views of the patients/clients about their treatment experience, the running of the service and any proposed changes to how that service is delivered.
At a strategic level, we are committed to involving people in the planning, evaluation and development of future provision. We run long-standing service user forums for those with issues around drug and alcohol use and mental health, which provides a continuous consultation function.
At a policy level, we work with Public Health England to promote good practice through regional forums for service users and carers. Some of our service users attend national conferences and events and get involved in national strategy and policy.
We also undertake consultation on specific themes and issues with these groups and do joined-up consultation activities with partners in the CCG, local authority and public health.
All of this is enshrined in the treatment system charter, and the commissioners, in partnership with previous and existing service users, providers and wider stakeholders, have established a set of locally agreed values, which underpin local drug and alcohol treatment.
We believe that involvement means better services, better commissioning and better outcomes for people seeking help. All of these people need to remember that involvement isn’t an optional extra or just a nice thing to do – it is a right.