New Report Highlights Gaps in Service User Groups

{mosimage} Service user involvement has encouragingly advanced in the last 20 years. But, according to a new report from the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) and REU, the participation of black and minority ethnic groups with direct service user experience has significantly diminished. Doing It For Themselves: Participation and Black and Minority Ethnic Service Users says that policy makers and practitioners often consult with black and minority ethnic professionals and community leaders rather than directly involving services users themselves.  The report explores the myths that some use to explain the level of black and minority ethnic service user participation, including the idea that participation is not a priority for some groups and that the service user movement embraces…

and represents black and minority ethnic service users.

This timely report will support the government’s aims to strengthen public and patient involvement. Author of the report and Principal Advisor on Participation at SCIE, Nasa Begum, says that working with community leaders is no substitute to meaningful participation.

“Black and minority ethnic communities have a long history of using direct experience to challenge discrimination, yet their participation is often marginalised. If the government’s aims on involvement are to include everyone, it is imperative that policy makers, commissioners and practitioners keep an open mind and remain flexible and creative. With more determined work in this area everyone in social care can ensure that all service user groups are doing it for themselves.”

Director of REU, Ratna Dutt, agrees that we should no longer rely on assumptions. “The beliefs that black and minority ethnic groups aren’t interested in developing services, that they are only interested in their immediate communities and that they are ‘hard to reach’ have acted as definite barriers to this vital area of social care development.

“There are no logical reasons why we should see such disparities in service user participation. We need build trust with seldom heard groups, address marginalisation within mainstream user movements, and recognise this potential for improving services.”

The report will inform SCIE’s future work on participation, including plans to develop practice guidance on involving groups that are seldom heard.

To access Report 14: Doing it for themselves: participation and black and minority ethnic service users and find out more about SCIE’s resources on stakeholder participation visit