In my current work with colleagues in the university and with groups of carers and people who use services, I have been consultant to a social care organization implementing a strategy for enabling carers and people who use services to take an active part in the work. Some staff in the organization have concerns that this participation by people may get out of control, in the sense of costing too much and giving people too much power to dictate policy and practice in inappropriate areas. In contrast, a commonly expressed view by carers and service users is that, provided their out-of-pocket expenses are met, they are less concerned about payment of fees than about having their views heard. Many regard empowerment as feeling valued and having their views recognized and acknowledged as making a significant contribution. Many of them do not seek participation to the point of taking control of any aspect of running the organization. In this chapter, by the way, I sometimes use the term ‘service users’ to include carers and people who use services.
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