Robson et al. define user involvement as ‘the participation of users of services in decisions that affect their lives’ (2003, p. 2) and Croft and Beresford believe that ‘speaking and acting for yourself and being part of mainstream society, lies at the heart of … service user involvement’ (2002, p. 389). The concept of ‘user involvement’ is now well established within professional and managerial practice, in both health and social care, and enshrined within legislation and policy such as the NHS and Community Care Act 1990 and the NHS Constitution (DH, 2009a). It is no longer the case that managers and professionals can or should make decisions on behalf of those they serve. When considering how disabled people can influence health and social services, the term ‘user’ is preferred to ‘patient’ or ‘client’ which both have connotations of passivity.
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