Good relationships are key to effective engagement. These depend on clarity of expectation and acknowledging the power imbalances between people who use services and academic staff. A good place to start is creating a statement of values on which further engagement can be based. This can also help to tackle some of the practical barriers to involvement that are presented by custom and practice in academic institutions.
“It is important that professionals learn to ‘let go’ of some of their power for
real service user involvement to happen.”
—Member of Service User Panel for Open University School of Health and Social Welfare
Effective engagement requires a strong value base and is supported by developing a statement of values and principles at the outset (Ager et. al, 2005). This should be done in partnership with people who use services and carers and offers:
Ensuring a fair and effective working relationship relies upon the following components:
(Waterson and Morris, 2005 p. 661)
The University of Dundee Service User and Carer (CU) Group developed a statement of intent. Its principles include:
Develop an agreed set of values and principle for engagement with staff, people who use services and carers.
Ager, W., Dow, J., Ferguson, I., Gee, M., McPhail, M. and McSloy, N. (2005) Service User Involvement in Social Work Education: Good Practice Guidelines. IRISS (formerly SIESWE).