Service user participation and influence
Topics covered in this article: Participation & involvement
The Advisory Group- Key Community Supports
c/o Leam McKeown, Development Manager - Participation and Inclusion, KEY, 77 Renfrew Street, Glasgow G2 3BZ
KEY provides individual support services to over 1,400 people with a learning disability in cities, towns and villages throughout Scotland. KEY is committed to the fullest possible involvement of the people it supports in the planning and operation of its services. KEY believes the people who use its services have the right, and should have the opportunity, to influence how KEY provides, manages and reviews its support services at all levels of the organisation.
The Advisory Group(s)
In 1996 KEY developed a national and regional service user involvement and advisory network - The Advisory Group(s), (TAG) in order to ensure that service users play a full and active role in how both KEY's local services and KEY as an organisation operate.
There are nine Regional TAGs across Scotland in Dumfries and Galloway, Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire, North Lanarkshire, Glasgow, Dunbartonshire, Clyde Coast, Central and Highland. Anyone supported by KEY can join their Regional TAG and two representatives from each Regional TAG are elected to join National TAG.
TAG members set their own agenda and talk about the things that matter most to people and that are important in people's lives, for example the support people get, new ideas and different ways of doing things. TAG meeting minutes are accessible and made available to everyone KEY supports to ensure everyone has access to information about TAGs work and the opportunity to contribute to and influence this work via their local TAG representatives.
In each area KEY's senior managers attend their Regional TAG meeting to listen to what TAG members are talking about and feedback to local managers and services, ensuring what is discussed by TAG directly influences local service development.
TAGs work closely with KEY's Management Committee and National TAG may also discuss specific items that the Management Committee asks them to look at, for example a change in legislation, funding or a policy. Two members of KEY's Management Committee attend National TAG to listen to what is being said and feedback to the Management Committee. Once a year National TAG and KEY's Management Committee meet together for a residential strategy meeting to talk about the different issues that are coming up and to plan the way forward for KEY. A member of the Management Committee is linked to each Regional TAG and visit their Regional TAG at least once a year.
Over the last two years KEY and National TAG have been discussing how people KEY supports could become involved in the governance of KEY. National TAG identified a range of issues that could make involvement difficult, for example the length and structure of committee meetings and things that would enable involvement, for example easy to understand summaries of information.
This year TAG and the Management Committee agreed to begin a pilot and two members of National TAG now attend Management Committee meetings. Everyone involved has said this is going really well with the TAG members attending making a really valuable contribution to the discussions and decisions that take place. A number of regional events have taken place over the last year for example; Glasgow TAG hosted Glasgow Connections an event to enable people find out all the different groups and resources which they can link into in Glasgow. People had a chance to find out about a wide range of community groups/ resources as well as groups organised by people supported by KEY in different parts of the city and to take part in a range of taster activities. In response to a request made by some people with more complex needs through the Glasgow TAG Buddies a sensory music workshop and a Family member's workshop were held as part of the event.
In 2006 TAG helped design and pilot a service user questionnaire which is now used throughout KEY on an annual basis to check people's satisfaction with the service they receive. In 2008 TAG helped to design a Friends and Family questionnaire which is now sent to the family and friends of people who have given KEY their permission to do this.
The results from these questionnaires are used alongside consultation with each Regional TAG to determine the grading KEY gives itself as part of the Care Commissions annual self assessment which is undertaken prior to inspection. TAGs powerful influence in KEY is consistently recognised by the Care Commission in their inspections of KEY's services. In 2010 99% of our services were graded as "very good" or "excellent" by the Care Commission for service user participation in assessing and improving the quality of care and support they provide.
Development of Policies and Procedures
Smoking policy -in 2005 TAG helped KEY to develop its Smoking Policy. To support this National TAG also helped KEY to produce an accessible information book to help everyone supported by KEY understand the policy and to explain the Smoking, Health and Social Care (Scotland) Act.
TAG members have told KEY that they feel TAG is effective at involving people, that it helps people to have a say and impacts on the way that KEY works. This was verified as part of a benchmarking exercise earlier this year with another organisation with a similar service user involvement group who facilitated a workshop with TAG.
KEY is committed to the continual improvement of the ways in which it involves the people it supports and to supporting TAG to become stronger, not only within KEY but also within the communities the people TAG represents live in. TAG are currently exploring becoming independently constituted and hope this will open up new opportunities to access additional resources that will allow TAG to expand on the work that it does, for example TAG wants to explore undertaking more campaigning work.
TAG doesn't stand still but continues to grow and evolve in direct response to the needs of the people who use KEY's services.